Mobile%20Pic %20SAsia%202In last week's blog post, Returning to Wedza: Experiencing Mobile Life in Rural Africa, I asked whether or not you were implementing a "no phone left behind" strategy.  Today I want to let Tomi Ahonen, recognized by Forbes magazine as the most powerful influencer in the mobile sphere, share what "no phone left behind" looks like in the emerging world:  


...I could go on and on, but I think that is enough of a sampling of what is mobile in the Emerging World. It is not an iPhone app (nor an app on Android or even Symbian). The services in the Emerging World need to be suitable for the phones and services they use. If you want to reach the mass market, it is voice and SMS. It can also be IVR, USSD, MMS and if you want to do browser-based services, you start with WAP and consider HTML as your premium offering. Don't think of doing any smartphone apps for most of the Emerging World if you intend to offer mass market services for consumers. If Coca Cola says in the USA that their priority is 70% messaging, 20% mobile web and 10% smartphone apps - we can safely shift those priorities to be more like 90%, 9% and 1% for Emerging World countries especially like Africa, India etc.

from 7 Billion People on the Planet- How Relates to the Digital Divide


There's a lot of abbreviations there so let me give you some definitions and pointers:


SMS

Short Message Service (Wikipedia Entry). 

Reach = 100% of all mobile phones. 

Also known as "texting".  Those 160 character messages that have become the most highly used electronic communication medium on the planet with at least 7 TRILLION text messages sent in 2011.  Tools like FrontlineSMS and ministries like GreaterTexting can help you launch successful and powerful SMS/Texting outreaches

 

IVR

Interactive Voice Response (Wikipedia entry). 

Reach = 100% of all mobile phones. 

Allows people to call in to your outreach server and access the materials that are most helpful to them without the need for literacy.  Read more about this at the Telemensahe case study or How-To #6: Phonesite Outreach

 

USSD

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (Wikipedia entry). 

Reach = 100% of all mobile phones. 

This is what Facebook is using to expand its services to reach the emerging world by providing the service in a text-only format (see more here and here).  This is the least explored area for mobile ministry and yet, if this is where Facebook is exerting its greatest efforts for reaching the emerging world, it would certainly seem an area where ministries need to put serious effort.

 

WAP

Wireless Application Protocol (Wikipedia entry). 

Reach = 96% of all mobile phones

WAP browsers are the most basic type of internet browser (HTML browsers are found on 71%).  Whether you use progressive enhancement to have one site that works from the lowest end phone to 24" desktop screens or if you develop a mobile only website that works on both WAP and HTML browsers you MUST have mobile as a base for your internet outreach strategy.  Mobile is set to surpass desktop browsing by 2014 and that bridge has already been crossed in the emerging world!

 

MMS

Multimedia Messaging Service (Wikipedia entry). 

Reach = 82% of all mobile phones.

Very similar to SMS/text messaging but with added multimedia functionality allowing for adding pictures, audio, etc. to messages. 

 


So, once again, I ask- are you implementing a "no phone left behind" outreach?  If you're building an iPhone app you are leaving fully 97% of all phones behind and an even higher percentage among the unreached!  Perhaps it's time to get your team and advisors together and find a way to follow Tomi Ahonen's and Coca Cola's advice and shift your priorities to some of the technologies they suggest focusing on.

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