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Mobile World Congress 2014 Tech Moves Emerging Markets Forward

The world’s biggest tech brands and mobile visionaries have converged on Barcelona, Spain for the  2014 Mobile World Congress (MWC), sharing their products and ideas that will shape the way we will communicate in years to come. If there was a common theme after the first day of MWC, it was that mobile technology is unlocking potential in emerging markets.

Many devices at this year’s congress have featured a utilitarian design, with plastic bodies, compact screens and physical buttons. The result is an affordably priced smartphone for the masses. In countries like Mexico, India or South Africa, where telecom infrastructure and roads leave something to be desired, mobile technology provides access to services like banking, education and healthcare in rural locations.

Mobile banking has already proven widely popular – The Dutch Bangla-Bank Limited was among the pioneers of mobile banking in emerging markets. Their services rolled out in early 2012, and in ten months garnered more than one million customers.

A recent Juniper Research report predicts, “more than one billion people will use their mobile devices for banking by the end of 2017.” But according to the the World Bank, half of the world’s population 15 years old and older do not have bank accounts. With brands like Nokia and HTC developing inexpensive models for developing markets, there’s finally an affordable answer to pent-up demand.

With many people in emerging markets connecting to the Internet solely through mobile devices, these inexpensive smartphones can literally change lives. For example, 12 year-old Khadija Niazi from Pakistan completed a free online college-level physics course from Udacity, with the highest distinction. This mobile-friendly content, that is not otherwise available to people like Khadija, is working to empower the intellectual capital present in these locations. But the benefits of mobile extend past education.

Mobile healthcare, or mHealth,  is another way connected devices can transform lives. Described as “the use of mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets, and other devices that enable transmission of patient information among healthcare providers at the point of care,” mHealth allows people living in remote areas  access to healthcare otherwise unavailable to them.

Organizations like Medic Mobile lead a group of innovators that provide healthcare services through mobile technology. Solutions like delivering medical info via Short Message Service (SMS) or Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), scheduling clinic visits, and remote data collection are just some of the ways mHealth is providing basic healthcare where traditional infrastructure fails.

With all of this inexpensive technology finding its way to emerging markets, it is only natural that entrepreneurs develop new markets and businesses. Sub-Saharan Africa is a great example. With 71 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa without grid access and 475 million people there using cellphones, demand for charging solutions is strong. To help meet this need, a team from the University of New Mexico’s Science and Technology Corporation has developed a cost-effective battery that generates electricity when dipped in sugary water. The battery uses an enzyme catalyst to create the electrical generating reaction, and costs just $0.50 to make. The bottom line is that mobile tech is attracting entrepreneurs,  bringing new opportunities to more people than ever, changing lives in the process.

Mobile tech designed for the mobile-first emerging market will change the way the world works, learns and pays. But just as this technology unlocks the potential of these markets, so does manufacturing. For example, Suraj Chopra, a technology investment professional at Citadel Asset Management, notes that  the material and design elements of smart devices (smartphones and tablets) are increasingly important as the number of the brands expands, particularly in China.

“Many of these phones have similar components, such as semiconductors, displays and operating system.  So the look and feel of the device is increasingly the differentiator.  As a result, the material science and casing supplied by Jabil become critical factors in how Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)  differentiate their products.”

Manufacturing enables the innovations required to bring these ideas to life. Global manufacturing partners with robust supply chains, value engineering expertise and innovative materials technology make these consumer products not only possible but accessible. Technologists that demonstrated  affordable mobile tech at Mobile World Congress will ultimately work with manufacturers like Jabil to scale these devices across the globe – that’s how we’ll change the world.

The world’s biggest tech brands and mobile visionaries have converged on Barcelona, Spain for the  2014 Mobile World Congress (MWC), sharing their products and ideas that will shape the way we will communicate in years to come. If there was a common theme after the first day of MWC, it was that mobile technology is unlocking potential in emerging markets.

Many devices at this year’s congress have featured a utilitarian design, with plastic bodies, compact screens and physical buttons. The result is an affordably priced smartphone for the masses. In countries like Mexico, India or South Africa, where telecom infrastructure and roads leave something to be desired, mobile technology provides access to services like banking, education and healthcare in rural locations.

Mobile banking has already proven widely popular – The Dutch Bangla-Bank Limited was among the pioneers of mobile banking in emerging markets. Their services rolled out in early 2012, and in ten months garnered more than one million customers.

A recent Juniper Research report predicts, “more than one billion people will use their mobile devices for banking by the end of 2017.” But according to the the World Bank, half of the world’s population 15 years old and older do not have bank accounts. With brands like Nokia and HTC developing inexpensive models for developing markets, there’s finally an affordable answer to pent-up demand.

With many people in emerging markets connecting to the Internet solely through mobile devices, these inexpensive smartphones can literally change lives. For example, 12 year-old Khadija Niazi from Pakistan completed a free online college-level physics course from Udacity, with the highest distinction. This mobile-friendly content, that is not otherwise available to people like Khadija, is working to empower the intellectual capital present in these locations. But the benefits of mobile extend past education.

Mobile healthcare, or mHealth,  is another way connected devices can transform lives. Described as “the use of mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets, and other devices that enable transmission of patient information among healthcare providers at the point of care,” mHealth allows people living in remote areas  access to healthcare otherwise unavailable to them.

Organizations like Medic Mobile lead a group of innovators that provide healthcare services through mobile technology. Solutions like delivering medical info via Short Message Service (SMS) or Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), scheduling clinic visits, and remote data collection are just some of the ways mHealth is providing basic healthcare where traditional infrastructure fails.

With all of this inexpensive technology finding its way to emerging markets, it is only natural that entrepreneurs develop new markets and businesses. Sub-Saharan Africa is a great example. With 71 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa without grid access and 475 million people there using cellphones, demand for charging solutions is strong. To help meet this need, a team from the University of New Mexico’s Science and Technology Corporation has developed a cost-effective battery that generates electricity when dipped in sugary water. The battery uses an enzyme catalyst to create the electrical generating reaction, and costs just $0.50 to make. The bottom line is that mobile tech is attracting entrepreneurs,  bringing new opportunities to more people than ever, changing lives in the process.

Mobile tech designed for the mobile-first emerging market will change the way the world works, learns and pays. But just as this technology unlocks the potential of these markets, so does manufacturing. For example, Suraj Chopra, a technology investment professional at Citadel Asset Management, notes that  the material and design elements of smart devices (smartphones and tablets) are increasingly important as the number of the brands expands, particularly in China.

“Many of these phones have similar components, such as semiconductors, displays and operating system.  So the look and feel of the device is increasingly the differentiator.  As a result, the material science and casing supplied by Jabil become critical factors in how Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)  differentiate their products.”

Manufacturing enables the innovations required to bring these ideas to life. Global manufacturing partners with robust supply chains, value engineering expertise and innovative materials technology make these consumer products not only possible but accessible. Technologists that demonstrated  affordable mobile tech at Mobile World Congress will ultimately work with manufacturers like Jabil to scale these devices across the globe – that’s how we’ll change the world.

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