PC, Laptop or Smart Phone?

The importance of communications in development is undeniable and repetitively proven. Over the recent years the increase of telecommunication systems combined with the Internet and wireless technologies have changed the economic development scene across the world. Of course the pace of ICT penetration differs between the developed and developing countries, and as expected numerous studies have been conducted to identify the best way to address and bridge this form of inequality.

Khuong Vu in his study „ICT as a source of economic growth in the information age: Empirical evidence from the 1996–2005 period” finds that ICT and specifically Internet penetration followed by telephones and personal computers are strongly correlated with economic growth. Based on these findings, it would be safe to assume that increasing the number of laptops would facilitate access to Internet and therefore foster development. However, since technology is rapidly changing the dynamics of information flow, and taking into acount „The role of mobile phones in sustainable rural poverty reduction,“ GICT paper, I believe that enhacing the telephony network and access would have a greater impact.

Despite the fact evidence indicates  the relation of phone ownership ratio in a population with development to be insignificant; if we were to design a study for smart phones instead of regular phones, I predict the results to be ground breaking. Smart phones obviously allow the use of the device for simple telephony purposes which almost everyone is familiar with, but at the same time provide a platform that can be used in various ways from surfing the web to creating tailor made applications to serve purposes form crisis mapping to the promotion of social responsibility and beyond. Needless t0 say the necessity of laptops is not underestimated and an equal representation of both would be optimal; but instant access to the Internet via a phone is be much easier, faster and user friendly.

This idea presumes the necessary wireless infrastructure is in place and that people are be capable of purchasing a smart phone. It also presumes that users are Internet literate and tech savvy enough to maximize the potential of their phone as a platform. These assumptions may be challenging if not unrealistic in developing countries, but if policies provide for the creation of a wireless network then Internet access on smart phones and lap tops would be possible. Partnerships with telephony companies to create low rate plans with Internet access should also be considered. Utilizing available resources is an ongoing process in both ends of the spectrum. Developed and developing countries could focus on educating citizens to deploy ICT. Webinars on the available Internet tools via smart phones is an idea. Once people are accustomed to the power of technology on a telephone device, laptops and tabloids are the next step to create a new development momentum.


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