Conservation and Abundance
I often think about the rather abysmal battery life in my mobile devices. You know, the Smartphones, the Tablets, the laptops, what have you. There are several ways to look at this, but two are useful:
- We need bigger batteries
- We need electronics that consume less power
If you think about it, both statements are absolutely true. Bigger batteries mean more absolute power is available for use. On the other hand, more efficient power use allows you to do more with the same absolute quantity of power.
Look at successive generations of Apple’s iPhone. Each handset does more faster than the previous generation handset did with roughly the same overall battery size (and life). This is accomplished by a combination of greater efficiency and marginally larger battery.
This thought has occurred to me again as I read about T-Mobile USA’s plans to use their anemic spectrum holdings differently, which will allow them to deploy an LTE as good as their competition with only a modest increase in spectrum–spectrum they received from AT&T as a consolation prize for the failed AT&T/T-Mobile merger.
It certainly makes me question AT&T’s statements about mobile bandwidth scarcity. Or Comcast. Or any other ISP or Telco for that matter.
Back in the days of dialup Internet access, I listened to streaming audio thanks to technologies like RealAudio and TrueSpeech. They made excellent use of the very limited bandwidth to allow me to hear audio streamed over my dialup modem. Technology allowed me to make the best of our limited bandwidth, turning my scarcity into abundance.
And then I think about areas outside of North America and Europe where traditional desktop and laptop computers are common. I’m talking about places like Nigeria where most the closest thing many people have to a computer is a mobile phone–a phone through its limited interface and even more limited data networks that many people access the digital world.
Which makes me think we are trying to bridge the digital divide in the USA all wrong. Rather than bringing expensive Internet with expensive, complex computers to the poorer masses, why don’t we bring them capable mobile phones backed by a strong wireless network with compelling mobile services? What do you think?