The other night I was at home eating my dinner while surfing the web on my phone and as is the case with nearly 80% of smartphone users, my television was running. When I looked up, I realized that not only had I been proving a point we here at FiddleFly have been trying to make for months, but I also happened to be just in time to catch one of the long-standing players in the tech industry, Mark Andreesen, talking about the mobile market on Charlie Rose.
Now Mark is a very tactful individual these days and most of the interview was spent carefully dodging questions about the inefficiencies of Microsoft and Android (Mark just so happens to be on the board at Facebook), but it was the philosophical side of his offerings that really caught my interest. Mark talked about a few of the more unpublicized benefits the mobile web is having for some of its poorest users, and it got me thinking about the true potential this amazing technology could actually have.
One of the points Andreesen made was the impact that connectivity is having on price transparency. While many of us go about our lives buying and selling products without a concern, around the world some of the poorest farmers and independent producers have long been operating their businesses with no real way to calculate proper market value for their goods. With the affordability of mobile devices, suddenly these merchants have access to a full array of market indicators and statistics, thus allowing them to scale their businesses to global standards. Suddenly there is and will be a whole new influx of revenue coming to these men and women due completely to the power of mobile.
Maybe the most important development mobile offers in terms of global growth lies in the education sector. While millions of people in developing and even developed nations could never hope to afford formal education, many of those people can afford a single mobile device that can connect them to an endless supply of knowledge. In areas like Africa, huge portions of the population cannot afford electricity or running water, yet they have connected devices. These tiny, handheld tools are opening the world to people who previously lived in a world completely closed off to so much opportunity.
While Andreesen moved on and proceeded to talk about the dollars and cents of the tech industry, I couldn’t help turning my attention back to my smartphone, and think about how else this little device is changing the lives of so many. Things like open access to medical information could save thousands of lives. Constant connection across the globe means families can stay together no matter how far apart they are. The possibilities are for the first time ever truly endless, and while I may be getting a little philosophical even for my own taste, sometimes it does us good to take a break from tracking the market to sit back and wonder just how big this technology truly can be.