What Will Be the Next Technology Revolution
iPhone continues to duke it out with Android for plus or minus 50% of the US market. This is the world stage upon which today’s technology wars are most publicly fought. But like any stage, there are more people in the crowd than under the spotlight. We (the kinds of people who get to read articles like this) often forget that we are in the minority. Over 60% of the people on planet Earth have never used the internet. Some don’t even know what it is. While the leading mobile devices are considered “mature products” in the world’s richest countries, capable of little real growth, much of the rest of the world has yet to see these devices, and the internet that connects them, in real numbers.
India is getting a lot of attention today, and for good reason. With much less physical area, they have nearly the population of China, the world’s #1 population at just under 1.4 billion. They’ve gone from having huge swathes of their citizens without basic human necessities (clean running water, garbage systems, electricity) to having the great majority connected with these utilities, in just a decade. Still only about 19% of their population has access to the internet in any form. With this nation just having reached Mars, and internet rates of increase in the double digits every year, it’s only a matter of time before India has more internet customers than the population of four Americas.
China is in a different situation, but much farther along in many ways, and with few of the economic challenges unique to India. Still, less than half of their population is internet-connected. The situation is set back even further in much of Africa and central Asia. Some of these nations (like Indonesia) boast enormous populations, but don’t receive much attention on the world stage. Internet penetration is often less than 20% in these nations. Historically poor countries like these will benefit the most from new technologies that enable agriculture, industry, and health to flourish in ways never before possible. As their citizenry, economies, and governments stabilize, their value as consumers will have the Service Providers flocking in no time. One day, not too long from now, Mobile Phones from Virgin Media may not be an unlikely sight in the Sahara.
So what does this mean for so-called “developed” nations? “Developed” is an interesting word, necessarily in the past tense. “Developing” nations simply have more room for growth. This growth will bring with it all kinds of tumult and change, but growth will happen, economically, in population numbers, in resource usage, in marketing efforts. The world stage of technology will grow to be shared by all peopled continents. And for this reason, the mobile device wars have a lot of room to grow; not up, but out.