As much as it doesn’t feel like it, alot of the world still isn’t connected via PCs and this is something I’ve had a number of conversations about lately. The role of mobile in this space is interesting to think about.
Two weeks ago I spoke at X Media Lab in Sydney and presented the following information about BBC Online (desktop PC vs Mobile):
Alot of folks (including some internally here at the BBC) were amazed to see how different the top countries were when you look at what we do by which type of device is connecting. It shows that there’s a massive opportunity to connect to people in the developing world via mobile. These are people who might not have the money or access to get a nice shiny new MacBook Pro (like the one that arrived on my desk this week!) and broadband but they do have mobiles and a desire to be connected to the digital world harness the power of the network.
Another speaker at X Media Lab told me about an application in India that let’s farmers check to see what their crops are selling for in the markets near where they live so they can determine where to take their crops to get the highest profit. Brilliant!
To respond to this, the BBC World Service has recently launched a massive number of new language-service sites – with a specific eye on reaching countries and cultures that don’t traditionally connect. I think its great they’ve got these up and look forward to seeing how they do in the new year. You can check them out below:
BBC Para Africa http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/portugueseafrica/
BBC Swahili http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/swahili/
BBC Somali http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/somali/
BBC Hausa http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/hausa/
BBC Great Lakes http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/greatlakes/
And this is in addition to the other language services already on BBC Mobile:
Arabic - http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/mobile/
Indonesia - http://www.bbc.co.uk/indonesia/mobile/
Spanish - http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/movil/
Persian - http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/mobile/
Portugese - http://www.bbc.co.uk/portuguese/celular/
Russian - http://www.bbc.co.uk/russian/mobile/
Turkish - http://www.bbc.co.uk/turkce/cep/
UK China - http://www.bbc.co.uk/ukchina/simp/mobile/
Vietnam - http://www.bbc.co.uk/vietnamese/mobile/
Chinese (simple) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/zhongwen/simp/mobile/
Chinese (traditional) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/zhongwen/trad/mobile/
(Sorry about the formatting – I hate the formatting controls on WordPress…)
Closer to home… I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday about how these language services might also help speakers of these languages get online via their mobiles in the UK. A large part of the ‘digital divide’ (those without PC/internet access) are non-English speakers. And while they don’t have PCs, many of them have mobiles, so maybe the BBC providing content in their first languages will help them get online (via mobile) and get connected.
Maybe I’m too idealistic, but thinking about this makes me hope that what we’re doing is making the world at least a little bit better.