I have a confession to make: I’ve never really thought (or cared…like at all) about the different types of internet usage on different continents – or much less, developing nations. Where’s that damn Confession Bear when I need him?
From news stories and articles, I was aware that the internet and technology was becoming more accessible all over the world, so I am not entirely shocked that it has sprung up so quickly in Africa (Nigeria more specifically, according to the CNN article), but the manner in which it in being utilized is very interesting methinks. (#Random #ShakespeareReference. #YoureWelcome.)
The thought that crossed my mind while looking through this week’s readings was, “Wait, doesn’t the exact same thing happen to us?”
I mean only that when other countries develop technology well before we do (I’m mainly thinking of Japan here), it seems as though we use their experiences as a sort of BETA experiment. Think Camera Phones or Smart Phones. Many years ago, I remember seeing in the news that nearly everyone in Japan had a camera phone.
Wow! They’re so lucky! Said a High School version of Ryan who was still using a pay-as-you-go Virgin Mobile clam-shell. (That’s me btw. In case anyone was confused…)
But, sure enough, just as the Nightly News predicted, within 5 years it was more difficult to find a cell phone without a built in camera than otherwise.
An April 7 article from The Japan Times claims that “smart phone usage [in Japan] has nearly doubled over the past year.” (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/04/07/national/smartphone-usage-almost-doubles/)
DazeInfo.com claims that as of 2012, Android operating systems are dwarfing iOS in Japan, South Korea, and China. (http://www.dazeinfo.com/2013/02/26/smartphone-market-share-trend-in-2012/) I’m not psychic, but I am preeetty confident that we’ll see the same level of increase in the following years.
Ok – back to Nigeria! The video we watched in class about Mxit was fascinating, but, technologically speaking, it’s really only different than what we have because it is catered towards what Nigerians need it for! The CNN article mentions that “across sub-Saharan Africa, only 1 in 5 adults own bank accounts.” Soooo – ipso facto – the people of that region (or service providers more likely) have molded the technology to their specific needs. No doubt they are to some extent aware of the technology utilized in the West and the East (ie. Tablets, Laptops, Desktops, Gaming Consoles, etc.) but “mobile phones [are] cheaper to own and easier to run than PC’s,” so they have selected to Mobile Phone as their tool-of-choice.
I got to wondering, did these guys just watch a bunch of crazy-rich Americans WASTE spend billions of dollars on the very SHITTIEST first phase of the evolution of mobile technology? Maybe we (or the Wealthier, more like) are the “Technology Crash Test Dummies” that allow developing nations to sift through all the CRAP models that don’t survive Consumer-Natural-Selection.
This would mean that the Nigerian method of consolidation to mobile phones (using cellular devices for the tasks Americans typically delegate to desk and laptops) is quite possibly better than the system we have in place. I’m sure the Credit Card giants would hate to think about us swiping their plastic with every purchase we make… Hell – I bet Steve Jobs would be rolling in his grave if Americans started figuring out that you don’t need a Mac, an iPhone, an iPod, an iPad, and an iPad Mini (What?! It’s for the day’s I don’t want to lug around a sleek ‘n sexy 10.3’ tablet everywhere I go! GEEZ!!) to get through a single day.
All ranting aside – I think we have some learning to do from Africa’s technological innovations. Whether that be adapting an FDIC-backed form of Mobile-Funds-Transferring or simply entrusing our smartphones with more daily tasks such as paying for groceries or – dare I say it? – bar tabs!
Here are a few questions that I won’t lose sleep over tonight. Knock yourself out…
- Are American technology consumers “Crash Test Dummies” for developing nations?
- Do we have things to learn from developing nations’ use of technological advances?
- Does anyone remember when the Motorolla Razr used to be cool? **shudder**
- Does Nigerian consolidation – that is, using the Mobile Phone for way more than Americans do – create an argument for the need to consolidate devices we use here in America?