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The future of m apps

I’ve been thinking about m applications for two full days. Not the normal crowd I hang with, regulators, ministry officials, operators; but people who are starting new companies and various people helping them. People working on energy startups, agri-market incubators, and, yes, also ICT entrepreneurs.

Two ideas that came up:

Most people who think about m apps are still stuck on the Apple App Store. Great model but requires two things LIRNEasia’s people (BOP in emerging Asia) do not have at the present time: smartphones and credit cards to make payments from. I told some people I talked to about the solution that has been developed in Sri Lanka by hSenid.

People who develop apps are, stereotypically, 19 year old male geeks. They will, naturally, develop apps for people like them. Unless someone intervenes, nothing much will be developed for people at the BOP. Not because of bad intention, but because of ignorance. How can this problem be addressed.

I suggested to the people running the mLab (a World Bank funded initiative to encourage m applications) that they talk to our sister organization, Research ICT Africa, and commission them to do prepare innovator briefs, based on their extensive knowledge of what people in Africa actually do with their mobiles.

If innovators in Asia want this kind of information, they can always look at our Teleuse@BOP research, or ask us to do innovator briefs.

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