mobile 2.0


The m payments in buses research conducted as part of the Mobile 2.0 component of the 2008-10 research cycle is about to be piloted by the private bus owners association: “The private bus industry in Sri Lanka incurs an immense loss of more than Rs.13 billion annually due to the current system of collecting bus change from passengers. The government incurs an annual loss of about Rs.500 million owning to the production of coins each year.
The new Ministry of Telecom and IT has published newspaper advertisements requesting ideas on how ICT may be advanced in Sri Lanka.  LIRNEasia promptly responded, submitting a selection of policy briefs developed last year.  We encourage others to respond as well.
LIRNEasia Mobile 2.0 research on potential use of mobile money services among the BOP in emerging Asia has been published in the latest edition of ITID (Vol. 6, Issue 4). The paper entitled, “M-money for the BOP in the Philippines” is authored by Erwin Alampay, LIRNEasia Research Fellow, and Gemma Bala. Abstract This paper explores the reach and use of m-money among the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) in the Philippines using survey data from LIRNEasia’s 2008 Mobile 2.
LIRNEasia regularly surveys SEC group D and E (the bottom of the pyramid) teleuse in emerging Asian countries. In the study it was found that less than one percent of the Sri Lankan BOP phone users who are aware of mobile 2.0 services regularly use it. Highlighting this fact we ran an advertisement in the Daily Mirror today. The advertisement’s objective was to show what the policy makers and regulators can do and thereby what the service providers could do to boost up Mobile 2.
As a result of our work on Mobile 2.0 we are very interested in the future ways in which people connect to the Internet. Here are the thoughts of one of the great visionaries of our time: Mr. Jobs also predicted that the ongoing shift in technology away from the PC and toward mobile devices will continue. But rather than disappear, the PC will become a niche product, he said.
One of the things I always have to pause and explain when talking about our Teleuse@BOP work is why 100% of Filipinos at the BOP use SMS and some never use the mobiles to make a call. Now we find the Americans are beginning to emulate the Pinoys. Liza Colburn uses her cellphone constantly. She taps out her grocery lists, records voice memos, listens to music at the gym, tracks her caloric intake and posts frequent updates to her Twitter and Facebook accounts. The one thing she doesn’t use her cellphone for?

Somalia calling

Posted by on May 12, 2010  /  2 Comments

Amid rapid technological development, the competition to supply telecom services in war-torn Somalia proves that some complex businesses can thrive even in one of Africa’s dangerous markets. One of the largest telecom companies in Somalia, Hormuud Telecom, has annual sales of as much as US$40 million. Even “Mobile 2.0” is making inroads here. But the success of Somalia’s telecom sector shouldn’t come as such a surprise, according to experts.
How best to name the key theme for the next research cycle? We discussed this at length three years back. Rohan’s original idea was ‘Mobile Multiple Play’. We would have agreed, if not for the reason it already meant something else. Then came ‘Mobile++’.
We’ve been saying that most people will reach the Internet through mobile platforms for some time. And for some time, our colleagues have been looking at us as though we have sunstroke. But we like to break new ground and know that skeptical looks are part of the package. Now we have a powerful ally: the New York Times. With the majority of Internet traffic expected to shift to congestion-prone mobile networks, there is growing debate on both sides of the Atlantic about whether operators of the networks should be allowed to treat Web users differently, based on the users’ consumption.

Wireless health

Posted by on April 10, 2010  /  3 Comments

I was seeing a doctor in Washington DC and had to explain to him what allergy medicine I was on. This was an unplanned visit and I did not have the prescriptions. So I showed him the package. He pulled out his i-phone and googled the brand name (I thought), instead of walking over to the computer just outside. Few weeks later, I was at a relative’s place, the kind of place where you still have to go to the garden to get a decent signal (much improved from when I was DGT when one had to stand in a precise location in the middle of a paddy field).
Findings from LIRNEasia’s Mobile 2.0 study on m-government services has been published in India’s Economic Times, Ahmedabad.  The research examines the potential for the supply of government services over the mobile through a case study of such a  system developed by Mumbai-based Zero Mass Foundation, that has proved popular in the country. “This is one of the highly effective tools for achieving financial inclusion. But the system is suffering because of the lack of interest among government agencies.
We now have evidence to support the claim that those at the “Bottom of the Pyramid” (and therefore, the majority of people in the developing world) are likely to enter the world of knowledge and convenience promised by the Internet through the path opened by the rapidly increasing capabilities of mobile networks and user devices. Mobile 2.0 describes the use of mobiles for “more‐than‐voice”. Mobiles are increasingly becoming payment devices which can also send/process/receive voice, text and images; it is envisaged that in the next few years, they will also be fully capable of information‐retrieval and publishing functions, normally associated with the Internet. Mobile 2.
A story on the Barcelona GSM World conference had this interesting summary on the state of the handset market. With our focus on infrastructure we have not written much about handsets over the years, but it’s becoming difficult, especially in the context of the Mobile 2.0 narrative. As I said in a recent interview with the Expanding Horizons magazine: “Mobile networks will provide the key connectivity, especially as we see handsets becoming more advanced.” Global shipments of handsets had been falling every quarter since the third quarter of 2008, when the global financial crisis erupted, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

Tharoor tweets; MSM twit

Posted by on January 6, 2010  /  0 Comments

Apparently MSM in India are conspiring against new media: The news media breathlessly chronicle each of Mr. Tharoor’s supposed Twitter missteps in editorials and talk show discussions. One news channel scrolled his latest Twitter updates across its screen under the rubric “Breaking News.” Twitter enthusiasts say the news media make a fuss about it because it usurps its traditional role as intermediary and interpreter between the powerful and the masses. “By constantly associating Twitter with controversies, Indian media will successfully dissuade other politicians from joining the social networking site,” Ajit Narayana, an avid Twitter user who is organizing a conference this month on Twitter’s use in India, wrote in an e-mail message.
By Erwin A. Alampay Over the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to present my research on mobile money for remittances in two different conferences, with different audiences (the paper and PPT presentation can be downloaded here and here). On October 10, I presented my research on the use of mobile money for remittances in a panel on Mobile Adoption and Economic Development. This was for a conference held in New Brunswick on Mobile Communications and Social Policy, hosted by the Rutgers School of Information and Communication.  Harsha de Silva also presented his paper in the same panel on the “Role of social influence on mobile phone adoption: Evidence from the BOP in emerging Asia.
SciDev, a prestigious science communication channel, has featured our cell broadcast report, the first of the Mobile 2.0 reports to be released. Texting short messages through mobile phones could help in early warning of natural disasters in the Maldives, says a new report. The technology, called cell broadcasting, helps to deliver messages simultaneously to multiple users in a specified area. “In the case of the Maldives, if an early warning is introduced, it must be able to reach all of the outlying islands including tourists on resorts.
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