Getting People Interested
It seems to me imperative that mobile computing is spread across the whole spectrum of human existence. The computer is a recent addition to our civilization but it has completely overtaken the traditional forms of working and communication. It is now pure fantasy to believe that you can participate in a modern economy without having any contact with computing services.
The entrance of mobile computing has addressed this issue by way of expanding services to people in remote areas. It has also dealt with the needs of people who for their own reasons cannot work in one location. The challenge is to ensure that the coverage is wide enough to make a significant impact.
Governments have started certain schemes such as concessions and discounts in order to encourage the spread of mobile computing. These efforts have had mixed success because at the end of the day a government is not a business. It might desire that its citizens get involved in mobile computing but it will take the action of that industry to implement this dream.
That is why in my opinion the expansion of mobile computing cannot be divorced from the activities of the companies that run the industry. Once they buy into the merits of expanding the technology coverage, government might not even be required to get involved to push things further.
The Emerging Markets
There are rich existing markets for mobile computing that at least give the impression that there is no need to expand the industry further. Affluent people are buying mobile computing equipment in numbers that are significant enough to sustain the industry on a short term basis.
The problem is that these markets will get saturated at one point or the other. There is only so much mobile computing equipment that a single family can buy. Innovative businesses then have to start thinking about the emerging markets.
The ultimate goal is universal coverage but that is not always possible in the short term. The next alternative is to look at going to middle income groups. India is a place where the pace of economic development means that it is absolutely ripe for mobile computing. The people there have enough income to sustain a monthly subscription fee but also they have the technical knowledge to expand the industry. If the mobile computing industry is successful here, they can apply the principles to less developed nations.
The great thing about mobile computing is that it does not necessarily have to deal with major infrastructural constraints within the geographical location. For instance mobile computing does not necessarily require that modern highways are built. As long as you have the masts and mobile phones, implementation is possible. This takes away the traditional excuse that the infrastructural problems of the developing world make it nearly impossible to operate there. I think that necessity will become the mother of invention in mobile computing. When the rich markets have dried up, the companies will have no alternative but to explore the less affluent avenues.