Here are some statistics and other items that I have seen lately that make me believe that we will have completely connected students by 2010.
- A little more than a year ago, more than half the world had never made a phone call, now more than half the population of the world owns a cell phone. (Quoted in Clay Shirky's interview with Will Richardson last week!)
Because of the nature of the technology (the ease of being able to interconnect cell towers wirelessly, which decreases infrastructure costs), cell phone penetration has been able to 'leapfrog' other technologies. In the years between 1998 and 2003 growth rate of cell phones in Africa was over 5,000% mostly because it was cheaper to install cell service than it was to install actual copper or fiber optic cable. The growth rate of cell phones in the United States between 1995-2004 was over 300%, from 34 million to 159 subscribers. The rates for these services have also dropped considerably from approximately .25 a minute in 1995 to .06 a minute currently.
- Most 3G networks offer Internet access with their service.
The newest cell phones run on 3G or 3rd Generation Wireless service, which allows the transfer not just calls, but other forms of data including broadband wireless data and multimedia Internet traffic. 3G networks are growing at a rapid rate, with 200 million subscribers in 2007, which is only 6.7% of the total number of wireless subscribers, but in countries where 3G networks were first introduced (Japan and South Korea), over 50% of the wireless subscribers are now connected to 3G networks. Most of the 'industrialized world' will have a majority of their subscribers connected to 3G networks by 2010.
The newest 3G iPhone has a full feature set, including Internet access by connecting to an available wi-fi hot spot or using the phone's own network from the cell phone provider. Apple is also offering a whole new set of applications to be used with the iPhone, all of which are available at the Apple Store.
Google has been busy in the cell phone market as well. First, offering over 10 million dollars to developers to build applications for the 'Open Handset Alliance' platform. Google may also come out with a GPhone as well, as revealed this week.
Yesterday, the editors of the 'TechCrunch Blog' held a round table discussion yesterday in Menlo Park, CA to hypothesize the future of the mobile phone computing platform. The discussion was streamed over UStream and once I can find it archived someplace, I will embed a copy of the discussion here.
Now, why am I writing all of this now? Because I got slapped in the face with it last week. During Summer School, I had a teacher bring me a confisgated cell phone and I called the student in to discuss the matter. The student quite calmly announced he was typing his paper on his cell phone, so he could access it later from home and perform edits. He did this instead of writing out the paper long hand and have to type it in later.
More to come soon in this rapidly changing computing landscape....