Thursday New Tools Feature: Optimistic Android

Yesterday, TeleGeography released a new report projecting that by the year 2013,

  • there will be 700 million broadband subscribers worldwide, an increase of 76%
  • there will be over 2 billion new mobile subscriptions, an increase of 60%
  • wired phone line subscriptions will actually decline slightly worldwide

Furthermore, much of this growth is coming from the developing world. NDN and our affiliate the New Policy Institute recently released a paper, Harnessing the Mobile Revolution, which explores just how big of an impact this explosion of mobile infrastructure can have in poor countries in improving healthcare outcomes, combating poverty, and promoting democracy. So we're very encouraged by these projections.

Another important thing to note is that by 2013, smartphones will be much more ubiquitous and even more capable than they are at present. There's a ton of hype around the immenent release of the Palm Pre and the 3rd generation iPhone, which is likely to remain the class leader, but Google also just announced that there will be between 18 and 20 new phones running their mobile OS, Android, by the end of the year (two are pictured here).

Android is a powerful and highly customizable OS which continues to develop impressively, but until now it has been hindered by its hardware matches. Android also features an application store similar to Apple's, and although Apple still pretty much owns the app space (which it created), Android's app store does have the appeal of being completely open and uncensored (on some phones, depending on the carrier), unlike Apple's regulated App Store, which sometimes intentionally limits the iPhone's functionality.

The proliferation of these phones is in some ways more exciting than the spread of cheap netbooks - mobile phones today are more powerful and can do more things than most computers just a few years ago. Look for more from NDN in the coming weeks on this critical issue, which is huge not just for American politics but for global society. It will be very interesting to see what happens as much of the world comes online.