We’ve all seen the amazing innovation and mass adoption of mobile apps like Groupon, Foursquare and Yelp, but I’m starting to believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg. With mobile penetration in the developing world far surpassing wired, innovative people are beginning to use seemingly simple technology like SMS to drastically improve people’s lives.
Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database.
The UN World Food Program has started a “Cash for Work Program” that uses text messages in partnership with local banks to pay day-workers. Grameen Foundation’s MoTeCH Program (Mobile Technology for Community Health) is using text messages to communicate critical antenatal and neonatal information to new mothers in Ghana with little or no access to healthcare.
By the end of 2011, one in two US adults will have adopted smartphones, and nonprofits are beginning to see the value in QR codes as a low cost and quick way to engage their constituency. There are opportunities for education in the developing world with new access to information via mobile phones, allowing for classrooms to sprout-up anywhere there is a mobile signal and a desire to learn.
I’m starting a new 20%-time project to explore the potential of the next decade, the mobile media decade. Stay tuned for more, and as always please share any interesting information you’ve found on the subject.