Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mobile phones as a technology vehicle

I had written about mobile phones and how they help entrepreneurs get off the ground or expand their business, but this one is about mobile phone as a route to introduce the user to various new technologies.

The mobile phone today represents convergence to the end consumer. Much like how Niti here says in her post, The world is flat 2.0, the mobile phone has exposed technologies to many for whom if it were not for the convergence, this technology would be out of reach.

For instance, how many of us had a digital camera, an mp3 player, a PDA, a video recorder in college or just while we were at our first job? Today with a cellphone, these are all available to the youth. (Not just the youth, it is also available to many others.) I have seen cab drivers experiment with camera phones, as I have seen building contractors and the like. Real estate brokers often carry pictures of houses in their phones to show to prospective customers. This trend of convergence and exposure was covered in this piece in The Tribune:

...while on the other hand, the sale of mobile phones with cameras exceeds that of digital cameras, and now cellphone companies are coming with phones that double up as MP3 players too. In fact, cellphones have become all-in-one devices, with cameras, video cameras, multimedia, e-mail and other facilities. The expanding role of this convenient device will ensure a bright future for it.

Digital camera phones outsell digital cameras; is that a surprise. Not at all, but once they click their pictures and get used to it, they want more and they graduate to a "real" camera. This could be true for the other "converged"devices. Cellphones are thus, more than a communication device. They are about convergence of technology. They are also about getting used to new technology and thus technology spreads faster using the mobile phone as a vehicle.

Over the next few years we are going to see the cellphone morph into a carrier for many more technology areas than it is prevalent now with the phone becoming but one of the many functions it is capable of. The wallet, gaming, PDA et al etc. Kind of reminds me of the watch euphoria when the wristwatch was supposed to become everything. We all know what happened after that.

But what is important is also that, the cost of cellphones are going down day by day. Thus, they are the ideal vehicle to bundle new technology into. Mobile phones also help sampling. So, if you want users to sample a new game or software, the best way to spread it around is via a mobile phone download (how about making it free, or better still, paying users to download and spread the word?), especially in markets like India, where computer usage is far lower than cellphone usage.

1 comment:

Veer said...

Nice post! Blogged about it here.