The Economist of October 2nd 2009, had a special report on mobile telecommunications. Here are a few interesting facts and predictions from this article:

-         Adding 10 mobile phones per 100 inhabitants increases GDP per person by 0.8%

-         Mobile phone growth has been the largest in the developing world. In 2000 the developing world accounted for around one quarter of a total of some 700 million mobile phones. By the beginning of 2009, this share has grown to three quarters of the now 4 billion phones.

-         India, Africa, and then China lead the growth statistics with 125%, 95%, and 90% growth respectively in the year to end March 2009.

-         Deregulation, or the absence of regulation in the developing world, is stimulating growth.

-         Innovation in technology, network sharing, charging methods, outsourcing, etc. are producing huge cost reductions (needed to deliver mobile phone services in poorer countries).

-         Voice is only just the first wave in bringing efficiency and productivity gains.

-         Banking services are emerging as a fresh wave.

-         The next wave is information services, initially delivered via text messages (e.g. weather forecasts, farming help desk services, fish market data)

-         More extensive internet access from phones will be the next logical step. For this, the phones need to become a little smarter and more complex.

-         After that, internet access from netbooks may take off: the first village netbooks are already getting established.

The consequence of the above is that by 2020, the vast majority of internet users will have come to information technology from a radically different angle than most of us working with computers and the internet today. The new users come from the mobile phone, text, then netbook, browser and very little else. No desktop, no Windows applications, just the web. It is interesting that Google’s Chrome OS plays directly in this space and appears to address emerging markets. Incidentally, where the biggest internet growth is expected to be.