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by Radha Rao last modified Apr 02, 2011 01:56 PM
The coolest device of the decade – From brick-sized to size zero, the cell phone changed our lives forever – an article by Deepa Kurup, The Hindu, 1st Jan, 2010.
Pushing Buttons

Information is Power: The cellphone tells this mango seller where he can find the best price

Bangalore: Today, it no longer makes news to see your neighbourhood vegetable vendor taking orders on his mobile phone, or for that matter a mason at work as he chatters away on his cellphone.

A decade ago this was unthinkable.

The 10 years which have gone by have found a great leveller in technology, the cell phone being the most ubiquitous of them all. Cellphones crossed over from overpriced, shoebox-sized, upper-class accessory to an affordable easy-to-use gadget for staying connected, getting entertained and, for many, even a way of life. The long queues outside the PCO booth and scrambling for those elusive one-rupee coins is now history. The cellphone is literally in every hand. As of November 2009, India, with the world’s second largest population, registered 506.4 million cellphone connections, (543 million, including landlines), second only to China. Which means half our population has the device.

Tharoor’s take

Twitter-politician Shashi Tharoor regaled the audience at a recent conference, TED India, about this story of a coconut vendor in his home state of Kerala. He wanted a tender coconut and called a vendor he knew, only to discover the man was high up on a coconut palm, still connected to his cellphone!

Old timers still talk about the miles of red tape and the years it took to get a basic landline connection.

So while globally the noughties were about crowdsourcing, micro and macro blogging, e-books, file sharing or the “cloud”, in India, even the internet is only barely there. With a staggeringly low penetration, pegged at around seven to eight percent (over 80 million), the web is not a patch on the omnipresent cellphone.

The next decade

Sunil Abraham, Director of Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society, insists that the cellphone will also define the decade that begins today. And like that clever advertisement, text-to-voice and voice recognition can and will be big in providing access to the unlettered, disabled and forgotten sections, he explains.

“Data services and geographic positioning services (GPS) show great promise in connecting the poor to the state and the market,” he said.

On a more futuristic, and indulgent note, Mr. Abraham says micro-projection systems that will work on walls and mobiles will forefront projects in those rural areas with limited or no electricity. This may be the only way to reach the unbanked with mainstream or community currencies, he adds.

Link to the original article

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ASPI-CIS Partnership


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