I remember a couple of years ago, Bill Gates made a bold declaration that cell phones were be the computing tool of choice for hundreds if no billions of people around the world. Of course, that statement was made under duress as OLPC's XO seemed to have all the momentum in pushing into the hungry minds of millions of third world children in search of education and a better life.
Okay, this is Bill Gates after all so I'm guess he has a glimpse into the future most of us don't and he probably knows what he was talking about. That was in January of 2006. Well, perhaps that day is almost here.
Perhaps eventually, it'll be a variant of an Android-based phone. Microsoft could give away Windows Mobile to Africa's children with a cheap but powerful mobile device. Might even be an iPod Touch. Or OLPC might be developing a Sugar based handheld with touch controls as you're reading this.
For some in Uganda, that is happening to a degree now. The Grameen Foundation has partnered with Google and a local telecom to allow users access to information via SMS queries.
Why SMS? Most of the phones there are still simple cell phones with SMS capability. We're not talking about smartphones yet. But work is being done to create apps that allow information to be shared with the mobile users in Uganda and perhaps elsewhere.
An user simply texts a query. It gets sent to a database where then a likely answer is then sent back to the user with the information being sought. Also, a "Failed-Over Center" will collect queries that yield no relevant information to be analyzed in order to provide better services in the future.
Source: CNet News
It's not the same as the OLPC or even what Bill Gates had envisioned but I'm sure we'll get there in Africa and other third world nations soon. Progress will not be denied and Onxo will continue to keep an eye on what OLPC and other programs are doing to bring mobile tech to the poor and the opportunities they generate.