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February 11, 2010

TED 2010: How cell phones will change the world

Posted: 03:38 PM ET
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Sometimes simple and cheap technologies are best.

That was my take-away from a chat with Tero Ojanpera, a senior vice-president at Nokia. I caught up with him on Wednesday evening at the TED Conference here in Long Beach, California.

Ojanpera does a lot of work these days with mobile phones in the developing world. In places like rural India or sub-Saharan Africa, phones that cost $20 are better than those that cost $200. That's partly because they're more affordable, but it's also because mobile phone developers in those places there don't create complicated, high-power smartphone apps. They make applications with what they've got: text messages.

Those text messages are able to do some pretty amazing things.

With cheap mobile phone, farmers in Africa can get crop prices, so they don't get ripped off when middlmen buyers come to their villages and offer low rates for their goods. Kids in India can learn English through text-message-based applications. People and rural places can communicate with doctors in bigger cities. They can access info about diseases through text message apps, too.

Mobile phones are connecting some villages to the outside world for the first time, Ojanpera said. Landline phones and the Internet require more infrastructure and haven't made it everywhere.

In bigger cities, mobile phones are being employed for new kinds of storytelling. Ojanpera said Nokia is collaborating on a new show with Tim Kring, the creator of the TV series "Heroes." The new show won't be on TV - it will be played out in the real world. People will use their phones to take pictures of posters or other branded objects. Then video clips will play for them. Sounds funky, and I'm a bit hazy on the details. He wouldn't say what the name of the program would be or when exactly it would debut. But it sounds like it could be part of a techie shift for the TV industry.

"It's completely new," he said. "It's going to blow your mind."

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Filed under: cell phones • TED2010

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Franko   February 11th, 2010 5:04 pm ET

Controlled and directed, - We are becoming cell phone applications.
Ask not what you can do for the cellphone,
but what the cellphone can do for you.

dele   February 12th, 2010 1:43 pm ET

Nokia will continue to be hot if it can figure out a way to create useful stuff you can do with your phone without paying the greedy networks

The Crypticum Keeper   February 12th, 2010 6:14 pm ET

Franko, that's all up to the user, and not a universal absolute.

raf1958   February 12th, 2010 7:22 pm ET

on the same line as FRANKO. Advertising is driving us to define our own existence based on its needs. We are becoming integrated into the commercial that is beamed back at us. A TV show that rewards us for identifying branded objects: advertising that uses us to enforce it's importance in our lives. LEAVE THE CITY PEOPLE. UNPLUG, BREATHE, THROW ON SOME CLOTHES AND TAKE A WALK IN THE FOREST. LOOK IN THE NIGHT SKY AND STARE AT THE STARS. BE OVERWHELMED AND SCARED BY THE POWER OF THE PHYSICAL WORLD.

Jamie Stewart   May 19th, 2010 10:48 pm ET

What is the latest and most expensive cellphones this year ?*~`

steve nicks   June 14th, 2010 2:05 am ET

Yes, I agree that cellphone can change the world because it is just a small device but it is very useful and helpful to us.


Ayden Simmons   July 12th, 2010 10:24 pm ET

i am sort of obsessed with the latest cellphones on the market and i am always on the lookout-`,

Alexa Stewart   October 10th, 2010 1:31 pm ET

i love camera cellphones so much, i wish they could have make a 10 Megapixel camera cellphone-`"

RK   October 30th, 2010 7:15 am ET

Yes, I agree that cellphone can change the world because it is very small device but very useful and helpful to us

Radha Krishna   October 30th, 2010 8:25 am ET

Actually the use of cell phones is growing rapidly....:)

RK Mobile   April 18th, 2011 10:23 am ET

Ted 2010 how cell phones will change the world.. Ho-o-o-o-t 🙂

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