Middle of the Pyramid (MoP) 1

Looking at the current world state from a technology perspective is very illuminating. Current estimates suggest that the benefits of computing have reached fewer than 1.5 billion people. The world population is more than 6 billion. Latest estimates suggest that at the end of September 2010, more than 4.5 billion mobile phones were in use. From a technologist’s perspective, the world consists of three groups:

• People at the top of the pyramid (ToP) have access to the current Internet and associated benefits.
• People at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) have no access to communication technology, including mobile phones.
• People at the middle of the pyramid (MoP) have access to mobile phones but not to the Internet.

Given that mobile phones are rapidly becoming mobile computers equipped with many more sensors than even contemporary laptop computers have, people could easily use them as the primary mechanism for creating and accessing future Webs, including the current WWW and the EventWeb.
We believe that some innovative technology can be developed based on emerging mobile phones and the associated infrastructure that can help bridge the digital divide. We can start this process already by developing inclusive technology for MoP. The way technology is evolving, the benefits will rapidly extend to the BoP. So how can we bring the benefits of computing to the people in MoP? Many people think we can achieve this by reducing a computer’s price to below US$100. But is cost the primary factor, or do other factors contribute to the “digital divide”? We believe that a deeper understanding of the need and ability to interact naturally with computers, not just the cost reduction, will bring computing to billions.

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