Tuesday, April 18

Nigerians helping themselves to bluepulse (cross-post)

It's amazing where I find bluepulse users these days. Just searching and browsing in my off moments, I've often found thriving mobile telephony markets in developing countries with limited or no fixed-line telephone network, where rather than wait for fixed-line infrastructure and ADSL, they've elected to go straight to 2.5G or 3G.

That means consumers in developing nations are going straight to mobile internet applications these days, without having first used those applications on a desktop PC. This has significant user interface implications for mobile browser vendors - it's hard enough using a WAP browser to navigate, say, Yahoo! from a phone if you're familiar with how Yahoo! looks and feels on a PC - imagine how hard it could be if you've only ever seen Yahoo! on a phone. So many desktop interface conventions are clumsily implemented on a phone, or worse still, don't yet work at all. Bluepulse has an advantage in these situations since it's more about delivering a mobile application that works on a phone than repurposing a desktop browser experience for a handset. Bluepulse is easy to understand if the mobile handset is your first and only internet device.

Here's one example of people in Nigeria with an active mobile internet community - a thriving Nigerian community discussion on Esato.com, and in amongst the talk about new babies, religion, politics and power-cuts, the locals are advising each other on how best to get the internet working on their mobile phones, where to download Opera Mini, and whether bluepulse is a useful alternative.

There are several mobile carriers in Nigeria, although not all of them offer GPRS yet. While the cheapest tariffs seem to be about AUD$25 a month (see NGN/AUD exchange rate) you have to remember that this represents a significant part of average monthly income - Nigerians are generally earning very little (with the possible exception of the more successful of the Nigerian email scammers.)

Bluepulse isn't intentionally a tool for social change, but I see Romanians using it and recommending it to their friends from Romania; or Filipinos chatting in Tagalog about writing bluepulse widgets, and that makes me wonder if the data-enabled mobile phone networks being built in developing nations might be helping these people coordinate political action, find out about news from uncensored sources, stay in touch with loved ones working overseas... and check their lottery results and TV schedule too, of course!

If that's the case, it probably helps that we make the bluepulse client free to use, and charge nothing to let developers use the bluepulse SDK to build their own widgets. If there are communities and aid agencies in developing nations that we can assist with advice on building and hosting mobile widgets, let us know. Revenue is important, but it's not the only goal.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Buy content through ScooptWords