Thursday, 20 October 2011

Blackberry Fail = #firstworldproblem ?

There's an article in today's Toronto Globe and Mail with a similar title to this post.

I'm not taking issue with the article as it's clearly supposed to be amusing, but with the idea that a collapse of email services (or any other twenty first century messaging system) is a first world problem.

It's not. Visit any country struggling up the ladder and you'll see that cellphones are everywhere, and smartphones are not far behind - witness the blackberry toting tuk tuk driver we encountered on our trip to Thailand earlier this year.

It's a simple story, but worth telling. We were in a tuk tuk in Ao Nang when the driver grunted sorry and pulled over to the side of the road. It was in the middle of a monsoonal squall and I half expected that the tuk tuk had died in the rain.

Not a bit of it. The driver pulled a plastic bag out of his pocket, unwrapped it to unpack a blackberry, which he looked at, tapped a response, re wrapped it and set off again. Now a blackberry must have been quite an investment for him but is obviously how he kept in touch with his touts and regulars to pick up traffic.

The thing which always impresses me about poorer countries is how good the hi tech infrastructure can be and to what extent services are enabled by them, and indeed how cheap smartphones from China are changing the way things get done in these countries.

A dead email solution is just as much a problem for a tuk tuk man chasing bookings or a millet farmer trying to decide if this is the week to sell his crop as it is for anyone in Pitt Street

No comments: