Many people have always thought Apple’s iPhone and iPad were revolutionary mobile products ever developed to change how people communicate and access information, entertainment and services in the tech industry. However since then similar slab-style smartphones and tablets have become pervasive. This doesn’t mean mobile devices have become boring, but it does beg the question: What new kinds of gadgets will we see next – and what might they mean for business in Africa?
The mobile phone has evolved from a communications tool to a device, in which much of Africa’s economic aspirations rest. Innovations built around the mobile phone have improved the population’s inclusion in financial markets, digital literacy and have helped to work around the continent’s infrastructure problems. In some regions, more Africans have a mobile phone than have access to electricity. This has opened up opportunities for entrepreneurs and has changed the way business is done in the continent’s banking, agricultural, telecoms and educational sectors. But it has also helped to increase transparency in politics as activists use mobile applications to monitor political violence and fight against state control of free speech.
By building an OS that solely depend on open standards, Mozilla can “own” a platform and ensure that a free, open mobile platform always exists. This is important as it means that not only can Mozilla create a wedge in the market to keep it open, but they can act as a measure of influence to bring more innovations based on these platform. This also provides a way to propose and test new Web standards, with real content and workloads.
“Changing the world is often glamorized. But at its heart, it’s very hard work with an unpredictable path. I’m very aware of the stress all Mozillians, particularly those closely associated with Firefox OS, have endured the last few years. Anyone who thought it would be easy to take on, not only the three most formidable players in the tech industry, but in any industry, surely has learned otherwise.” – Mitchel Baker