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Cellphones Iphone Apple

Smartphones Becoming Computer of Choice in Developing Countries 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the computer-of-the-people dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The build-out of 3G networks in developing countries, plus ultra-low prices from the likes of Samsung, will make the smartphone the sole computer of millions of citizens worldwide. And by 2016, 97 percent of smartphones are expected to use touchscreens. Now, don't get me wrong — I carry an iPad and an iPod Touch in my backpack and love touchscreens — but I still like a phone that fits in my pocket. However, I'm going to be in the minority five years from now, when the majority of wireless communicators will be smartphones."
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Smartphones Becoming Computer of Choice in Developing Countries

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  • Developing countries (Score:5, Informative)

    by ge7 (2194648) on Friday September 16, 2011 @12:09AM (#37417110)
    Speaking as someone who spends a lot of time living in Asia, it already is somewhat true. Unlike in US or Europe, people in developing countries, especially Asia, tend to visit webcafes instead of having their own computer. Some do, but it's much more common to go out. You can find these in almost every corner too, they're cheap to use and they have drinks and beer too. This also makes it a bit more social.

    People go to webcafes to do everything that needs an actual computer, and otherwise stay connected to internet via smartphones, which are a lot cheaper to use too.
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      People go to webcafes to do everything that needs an actual computer

      Oh come on. How are you supposed to jerk off to online porn in a webcafe? The local health departments must have some standards.

      Seriously.

      Oh, and I have another question: Why should we care whether lots of people are using their smartphones instead of desktop computers? I wonder how many people are posting here on Slashdot using a tablet or smartphone. I don't think it's very many.

      • by ge7 (2194648)
        Interestingly, they have sex with real girls instead of wanking to porn.
        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          Interestingly, they have sex with real girls instead of wanking to porn.

          Where's the fun in that?

          I guess it explains the population disparity, though.

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      If that's the only thing you do with your "computer", it's not.

      Unless you have cygwin installed on it, or you are running folding@home as your screensave, it's not a computer, it's an entertainment center.

      I know it's very subjective, but I claim that there is a whole bunch of people who used computers since 70s and 80s that share this subjective view.

      Computer is something that has either some kind of "intelligence" or performs something more than entertaining: some useful work.

      Your wireless router has more

  • by rueger (210566) * on Friday September 16, 2011 @12:19AM (#37417140) Homepage
    I already probably do half to two thirds of my browsing, email, and related tasks on my smartphone these days. An awful lot of what we do with computers is arguably trivial stuff that doesn't need screen real estate or big computing power.

    My laptop is gathering dust!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I find it a pain to type more than just a few sentences on a phone.

      • by alexo (9335)

        What about phones with physical (slider) keyboards?

        Some of them are not much thicker than the keyboardless ones.

      • It's painful to read more than a few sentences from most people.
    • by dslbrian (318993)

      I already probably do half to two thirds of my browsing, email, and related tasks on my smartphone these days. An awful lot of what we do with computers is arguably trivial stuff that doesn't need screen real estate or big computing power.

      For basic content viewing, and simple web browsing small touchscreens work ok. However for anything requiring more precision than the finger sized blob a touchscreen sees, they absolutely blow. I can barely stand editing a couple sentences on a smartphone, and I can't imagine using it to do the things you would do on a regular computer. Try writing a thesis on a smartphone, or here's one - does anyone code android apps using only an android touchscreen device? That would be agony. At minimum I think on

  • by Casandro (751346) on Friday September 16, 2011 @12:30AM (#37417188)

    In a nutshell there are 3 different ways to handle software distribution. (with some overlap)

    1. Anarchy: This way is typically done on Windows. You either use a search engine to type in "$program free download" and follow the first link, or you download the source-code and compile it yourself. This requires the user to be able to evaluate the software themselves. There is no guide. This works perfectly well with competent users, but can lead to large problems with the masses.

    2. Dictatorship: You have a pre-made "app-store" which only lists programmes which went through some sort of censorship process. There is typically only one to choose from and typically you have no way to influence the rules or decisions. This is the way it's now typically done on newer smartphones, for example on iOS/Blackberry/WP7/Android. Since you cannot control what code you have running on your system, you have very little control about what your system is doing.

    3. Communism: (in the sense of community) You have list of recommended programs which can be easily installed. That list is compiled by a community which you can join if you have proven to be competent or at least ask why they have done a decision in a certain way. If you don't like that decision, you can always go to another community and often even mix 2 for the greatest benefit. Installing software yourself is discouraged but not forbidden. You can always just do that.

    The big point why this is so important is that computers are now extensions of your brain. This means the software running on your computer influences how you think.

    • by Kensai7 (1005287)

      "The big point why this is so important is that computers are now extensions of your brain. This means the software running on your computer influences how you think."

      True. From the moment computers became easily portable and always connected, we have almost the equivalent of unlimited memory. Even if you don't remember or know something, it's probably a few touches (the new term for 'clicks') away. I wonder what will come after the smartphones... wearable computers anyone? :)

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      1. Anarchy: This way is typically done on Windows.

      No, Microsoft has a rather extensive website which indeed includes information on Windows software. They operate in a state of benevolent neglect with typical market manipulation. And as you state, there is no pure communism.

    • Dictatorship: You have a pre-made "app-store" which only lists programmes which went through some sort of censorship process. There is typically only one to choose from and typically you have no way to influence the rules or decisions. This is the way it's now typically done on newer smartphones, for example on iOS/Blackberry/WP7/Android.

      All Android phones with Android Market have adb install, which lets the user install apps outside of Android Market over a USB cable. Almost all also have "Unknown sources", which lets the user install additional app stores. Even AT&T phones nowadays allow this [tgdaily.com].

      Communism: (in the sense of community) You have list of recommended programs which can be easily installed.

      I take it you're referring to the process used by GNU/Linux distributions' repositories. But the criteria for those tend to include being licensed as free software and free cultural works, which typically means no high-production-value video game

      • by Rutulian (171771)

        I take it you're referring to the process used by GNU/Linux distributions' repositories. But the criteria for those tend to include being licensed as free software and free cultural works, which typically means no high-production-value video games and no tax return preparation software.

        No, not really. There is no reason why commercial software cannot be distributed in a repository. Companies just choose not to do it. The Canonical partner repository is in fact intended for this purpose. It would be difficult to mix free and commercial software together in the same repository, simply because of the mechanics of how repositories work. Having multiple repositories seems like a fine solution, though.

  • Japan as well (Score:5, Informative)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday September 16, 2011 @12:33AM (#37417196) Homepage Journal
    In Japan a lot of people either don't have a computer at home, or don't have internet access(they usually have a laptop in that case). However the reasons are probably a bit different, the Japanese can obviously afford computers, but since even now most Japanese people don't take work home with them, there really isn't an overwhelming need to have one.
    • by Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) on Friday September 16, 2011 @01:04AM (#37417304)

      In Japan a lot of people either don't have a computer at home, or don't have internet access(they usually have a laptop in that case). However the reasons are probably a bit different, the Japanese can obviously afford computers, but since even now most Japanese people don't take work home with them, there really isn't an overwhelming need to have one.

      oh man... thats so sad... what they do when they come home after work???? no facebook? no.... ehm... porn?? no news, no email, no skype, no ichat? just your wife kids and stuff??? I ain't going there, no way!

      • by zerojoker (812874)
        > what they do when they come home after work???? if you come home from work at 11pm, maybe you just want to sleep? Japanese folks are required to do long hours a lot, not matter if the overtime actually makes sense or not.
      • Actually printed porn is still quite popular in Japan, esp. when compared to the US and Europe where it is in serious decline. Maybe thats related to the % of the population that has computers, maybe not. Hard to say.
  • I use my desktop for gaming and serious data manipulation, my laptop for everything else (video, communicating, office work, etc). I don't have a tablet yet, but I can see it substituting all my other uses, minus the most CPU-intensive. If a tablet can do this, newer generation smartphones can do it as well. Computing power goes up, the only limit is the physical limit which makes it difficult to enter data and watch it comfortably.

    But for most casual PC jobs (e-mailing, tickets, show times, etc) smartphone

    • I'm still waiting for a cheap hybrid; a laptop with a touchscreen where I could simply detach the screen and use it as a tablet (even if it's just a screen, battery and wireless link to the base).

      I know you can just plug in a keyboard/mouse combo to a tablet, but that feels like a poor hack of a laptop, and besides I want a 12" screen minimum.

      • I know you can just plug in a keyboard/mouse combo to a tablet, but that feels like a poor hack of a laptop

        Unless the keyboard is built just for the tablet, as in the case of the Eee Pad Transformer.

        and besides I want a 12" screen minimum.

        A 12" tablet may not fit in the kind of bag where a tablet is carried.

        • The problem is that most hybrids like the Transformer still seem tablets with some laptop features.

          My usage patterns would be very different: most of the time I need a laptop running Debian, and occasional (maybe 20% of the time), I want to read some document or watch some video without having to carry the keyboard around.

          That's why I want a 12" - I'm not comfortable with working for extended periods of time on anything smaller. Portability is less important than that.

          • by tepples (727027)

            most hybrids like the Transformer still seem tablets with some laptop features.

            The only way you can detach the keyboard is if the CPU, RAM, and mass storage are in the monitor half of the clamshell. This means you're building a tablet.

            most of the time I need a laptop running Debian [...] I want a 12" - I'm not comfortable with working for extended periods of time on anything smaller.

            Then you might want to consider something like this 12" ASUS Eee Slate [ebay.com] with a keyboard dock. Yes, I agree that it's overpriced compared to budget 12" laptops, but apparently there aren't enough people like you to make high-volume production of such a product profitable.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          A 12" tablet may not fit in the kind of bag where a tablet is carried.

          Then you fit it into the kind of bag where a small laptop is carried.

  • by mirix (1649853) on Friday September 16, 2011 @12:44AM (#37417234)

    That's truly a shame. Unless it's in addition to a keyboard, of course.

    • by AC-x (735297)

      I'm sure in the future, as there is now, there will be smartphones with touch-screens and built in keyboards.

      Would you honestly prefer having to cursor through all the apps on your smartphone instead of using a touchscreen?

    • by narcc (412956)

      Well said. Touchscreens are practically useless outside of clicking over-sized buttons and gross ape-like gestures.

      For precision work, like re-positioning the text-cursor or clicking small targets, you really need something like an optical trackpad. With a touchscreen-only interface, such a simple and common task is extremely frustrating. (No, zooming in isn't an option. That completely defeats the purpose of having a larger screen.)

      As for typing, no matter how awesome you think swipe is, it still can'

  • First they try to steal "apps" for things that are not applications, but rather channels of content.

    Now a smartphone is a "computer"? In the sense of "general-purpose computing device" it most certainly is not. And neither is a fucking tablet.

    I love my Android phone. But it is a communications device. It is not a computer.

    I wouldn't mind having a tablet. I'll probably get one this year or next. It'll be great to surf and watch films with. But it's a content-consumption device. It is not a computer.

    But I gue

    • Okay, okay, I missed the bit about expanding 3G networks in developing countries.

      But it's still Captain Obviousness, and I'm still pissed that I got suckered into wasting my time reading this.

      • by grcumb (781340)

        Okay, okay, I missed the bit about expanding 3G networks in developing countries.

        But it's still Captain Obviousness, and I'm still pissed that I got suckered into wasting my time reading this.

        Tragically, it's not as obvious as it might seem to us geeks. In Papua New Guinea there are 55 thousand Facebook subscribers. 50 thousand of them access the Internet exclusively through their phones. But government is so blind to the incipient demand that they actively promote some of the highest Internet prices in the world. Reports like this are quite useful to those of us trying to make people realise that Internet + smart phone actually means something to the development of a nation.

    • by bonch (38532)

      Now a smartphone is a "computer"? In the sense of "general-purpose computing device" it most certainly is not. And neither is a fucking tablet.

      What the hell are you talking about? Smartphones are computers with cellular radios. The phone functionality is just another app.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Smartphones are computers with cellular radios.

        Does a general-purpose computer require all of its applications to have been approved by the computer's manufacturer?

        The phone functionality is just another app.

        And a smartphone-sized computer without phone functionality is called a PDA. So why can't I buy a PDA anymore without it having other severe disadvantages? These may include complete unavailability in my country (Samsung Galaxy Player/Galaxy S Wifi) or lack of multitouch and lack of access to applications exclusive to the platform's primary market (Archos 43 Internet Tablet).

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Smart phones and tablets are just as much general computing devices as our computers of the past were. The fact that I can run Frodo, DosBox, and UAE on them means that to claim they are not general-purpose computing devices you must redefine computers in their entirety.
      • The fact that I can run Frodo, DosBox, and UAE on them

        ...applies only to Android. Tablets that run Android are general-purpose; tablets that run iOS are not.

        • by Legion303 (97901)

          "...applies only to Android."

          No, it doesn't.

          • by tepples (727027)

            No, it doesn't.

            That doesn't give me a lot to go on. Which popular smartphone platform other than Android "can run Frodo, DosBox, and UAE", as Belial6 mentioned, without a jailbreak?

            • by narcc (412956)

              Well, maybe not those specific applications (because they haven't been ported, possibly dosbox) but you can run whatever you want on a Blackberry without "jailbreaking" or "rooting" as Apple and Android users are forced to do.

              Drop the file on an SD card, download it through the browser, or even write a program directly on the hand-set. The choice is yours.

              It even multi-tasks properly, with exceptional battery life.

              • For one thing, I thought BlackBerry devices could only run applications written in Java or otherwise compiled to JVM bytecode (some models) or AIR applications (other models). When did RIM release an NDK? Or when did Frodo, DOSBox, and UAE get ported to Java or AIR? For another, you don't need to "root" an Android device to install APKs; any device with Android Market has adb install, and the vast majority of them have "Unknown sources".
                • by narcc (412956)

                  You're not a big reader are you? Let me quote my post:

                  not those specific applications

            • by Legion303 (97901)

              "That doesn't give me a lot to go on. Which popular smartphone platform other than Android "can run Frodo, DosBox, and UAE", as Belial6 mentioned"

              I'm guessing you can use google as well as I can.

              "without a jailbreak?"

              Oh, you're trying to move the goalposts and attribute words that weren't there before. Carry on, then.

              • by tepples (727027)

                Oh, you're trying to move the goalposts

                Apple moves the goalposts every time it updates iOS with "protection" against the last version's jailbreak.

    • by migla (1099771)

      And fuck apple in general. Peddlers of bullshit. Destroyers of freedom.

      i havent read tfa, but as to the phone being or not being a computer, the N900 is pretty much a debian gnu/linux machine.

      On the maemo forums I stumbled across a thread about someone buying up "all" used N900 from ebay uk. Apparently they can sell them for more than what uk:ians wanna pay in some other country.

      i agree the ios:s and androids are more like comm devices, but yo dawg, I can haz asterisk on my n900 if I wanna...

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Now a smartphone is a "computer"? In the sense of "general-purpose computing device" it most certainly is not. And neither is a fucking tablet.

      Congratulations: 3:57 AM and already I'm seeing the dumbest thing I'm going to see all day. They have input, they have output, and they can run arbitrary, general-purpose code. That makes them a general-purpose computing device, yea, even my shitty LG flip phone. I can write any Java Applet I want and load it on the phone, that makes it a general purpose computing device.

      I love my Android phone. But it is a communications device. It is not a computer.

      Oh, you're trolling. How much did that UID cost you?

    • by Terrasque (796014)

      I love my Android phone. But it is a communications device. It is not a computer.

      I think you're a bit off there. At least, for me, its an information device.
      It gathers, stores, shows, and send out information. The communication part is just a subset of that.

      If I see something funny or interesting, I take a picture or a video of it. If I think of something, I can save the idea in via audio, text and/or drawings. If i'm on a trip, I store all travel documents, with all the needed references on the phone, and it also shows me where I should drive to get there, and remembers where my hotel

    • by narcc (412956)

      In 5 years, most mobile phones will use touchscreens. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

      Obvious? Hell, I thought that in 5 years it would be obvious to everyone how awful the touchscreen-only interface actually is.

      Seriously, it's absolute misery. The few benefits it offers are FAR outweighed by the drawbacks -- everything from typing (swipe? get real) to something as simple as re-positioning the text-cursor. Maybe with a hybrid resistive/capacitive screen (so you could use a stylus) it may be less horrid, but it'll still be a nightmare to type, as it is now.

      There's a reason we're seeing so m

  • The summary mentions ultra-low prices from the likes of Samsung. What, exactly, does this mean? What counts as an ultra-low price?

    • Think of a low price. Now lower it. That's muthafarking ultra-low. That's so low you gotta be a world class limbo champion to slide your way under there. Ultra-low, biatches.

  • I can't say I've ever had any trouble fitting even relatively big smart phones (Nexus S) into my pocket, but perhaps OP would like to take a look at the Xperia Mini [sonyericsson.com]?

  • by mapkinase (958129) on Friday September 16, 2011 @07:59AM (#37418982) Homepage Journal

    Computer is something that does more than entertaining. Smartphone is not a computer unless you run FOLD@home on it when it's charging at night.

    It can run all the videos, render 3D, play music and rub your back at the same time at 10GHz, but it still won't be a computer.

    Now, a rusty chip in your car that does only one thing: optimizing injection into your carburator - that's a computer.

    Heck, the calculator I had in 1983 has more rights to be called a computer than a smartphone.

    • The only thing stopping a smartphone or tablet from running FOLD@home is someone writing the code for it, same as any other computing device.

      An android (or webos, or meego) device is a full Linux system! How can you possibly say it's not a computer? There are calculator emulator apps that run on smartphones...do you see how ludicrous your position is?

      • by Microlith (54737)

        Because an Android device is a crippled, incompatible Linux distribution that goes only where Google wants. WebOS went nowhere due to mismanagement, and Google did a great job damaging interest in MeeGo.

        Smartphones are the new console, and the push by the majors is to keep them that way while console-izing tablets and standard PCs.

      • by mapkinase (958129)

        "ludicrous" it's subjective. As I said: this is a subjective perception of me and rather large group of people who worked with computers before phones started to be called computers.

        It's not about computing power, it's about usage. If it is used for "computing" (historically something practically useful) then it's a computer. If it is used for "communication", it's "communication device", "phone", etc. if it is used for watching videos, playing games and listening to music - it's an "entertainment center"

        To

  • A company you never heard of does web apps for government. In a meeting recently with some folks who administer public health for the disadvantaged, the company was told that increasing numbers of their public assistance clients are using smartphones exclusively for Internet access because a monthly mobile package is cheaper than a laptop / desktop and broadband Internet.

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