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September 30, 2009


Giff Gfroerer, i2SMS


You limit the "next 4 billion" to the developing world. What I am seeing in the states also would include the lower income group...those that do not have a PC in the home, but now have a mobile device. These folks never thought of the Internet, or went to the public library to access if they did. Now they are accessing via a mobile device.

This was an area I never thought would pay the extra $10 or $30 for the data package...but they are. That was an interesting revelation here in the states...

As always, thanks and
Cordially yours,


I agree with you wholeheartedly. There's a lot of opportunity out there, but its not the easiest to get access to them. there are some interesting developments of people (even Microsoft!?!) looking at this challenge in a different way. Funnily enough I met with some people today who are working to try and access this market in South Africa, and blogged about it here;

Walter Adamson

The built-in light and the FM radio - thanks for the wake-up call about getting our minds back to the things that matter and setting out the framework for this massive opportunity. It does seem like the sea of innovation is shifting to these shores.

Walter Adamson @g2m

Robin Jewsbury

Thanks Tomi for these figures. I've updated my counter site to reflect the 4.3 billion phone subscribers - my previous source for this number had it higher.


I just came across a service running in Kenya and soon to start in Rwanda that turns individuals into what you've called "micro-entrepreneurs" using text (sms) based micro-jobs. This isnt something that will happen to/with the next 4 billion subscribers, its underway right now. See their website at


Hi, Tomi! Glad you're back to evangelizing the developing markets!

Latest moves by internet giants in that direction - MSFT's OneApp, Google SMS services in Africa ( Definitely, they are taking heed of your advice, Tomi!

jeux en ligne

An excellent article and argument, we certainly need to rethink the discount rate for future sustainability! Also, you presented what can potentially be a pretty confusing topic in a very lucid and easily understood manner!

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Giff, brendan, Walter, Robin, mozami, Marat and jeux

Thank you all for writing. I will answer each individuyally.

Giff - thanks. Good point about Americans, but actually, we are very close to total 'reading age' population penetration in the USA. There was the story a couple of years ago, of the homeless person having a cellphone and using it in an emergency. So the penetration rate the past 2 years has really shot up and is nearing 'total' penetration rate. Not quite there, but very close also for the US, so the big 'billion' numbers will not come from the Industrialized nations.

brendan - thanks, we agree obviously. Great link !

Walter, thanks. And of the FM radio, you may find my new blog today (nov 30) on non-FM radio, via the voice service, in India, to be very interesting too.

Robin - thanks. Actually, the ITU has since come out with the 4.6B number, so your site was more close to the truth than my blog was, sorry about that confusion..

mozami - thanks. You make a very good point, that the micro-employment is happening already today. I did not mean that it is a new opportunity 'only' for the next 4B, but I did want to point out, that the next 4B will be very different from those in the Western World today, and in that way, such micro employment opportunities will be an increasingly important part of that future. Thanks. We do agree. Sorry I was not more clear that this is reality today in not just Africa but Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines etc.

Marat - thanks! Yes, happily ever more of the story is now spreading. But we could still use more of the electronic echoes, haha...

jeux - thank you so much. I try to present this complex issue as clearly as I can, and obviously I have had many many times to write and re-write and refine the story in my 9 books and many more books-worth of text here at this blog...

Thank you all for commenting

Tomi Ahonen :-)

david baer

Having been a part of the Online Universal Work Marketing team for 4 months now, I’m thankful for my fellow team members who have patiently shown me the ropes along the way and made me feel welcome


Ernesto Reyes

Being a part of this billion listed user is a great contibution. Provided that you contribute good works and deeds in using the gift of technology is totally awesome!


This figure is very impressive!!!

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Making Sense of the Biggest Data Application on the Planet

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very good thanks you admin , really very nice article and good site


really very nice article and good site very good thanks you admin ,

Latest moves by internet giants in that direction - MSFT's OneApp, Google SMS services in Africa

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Aneel Karnani, a Professor at the University of Michigan and a Managing Director at FSG Social Impact Advisors, is a long-time critic of market-based approaches to poverty alleviation and the "base of the pyramid" concept in general.

His latest article, Romanticizing the Poor, appears in the Winter 2009 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. A brief excerpt:

Market solutions to poverty are very much in vogue. These solutions, which include services and products targeting consumers at the "bottom of the pyramid," portray poor people as creative entrepreneurs and discerning consumers. Yet this rosy view of poverty-stricken people is not only wrong, but also harmful. It allows corporations, governments, and nonprofits to deny this vulnerable population the protections it needs. Romanticizing the poor also hobbles realistic interventions for alleviating poverty.

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I am one of four :)

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But yes, we can differ in our views. I hope my comments here can show that at least my view is a considered one, after 9 books on mobile, and running my courses at Oxford University talking with many of the industry leaders daily. Not just random rantings of a Finnish lunatic with a funny hat haha..

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800 million automobiles! bloody hell, thats an interesting fact I wasn't aware of. Great article.

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Ok, that is the written version of what I talked about in Amsterdam

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