Last week I was speaking to a friend in Croatia and he was thrilled that he could soon wander down to the local Hrvatski Telekom store and pick up an iPhone 3G. Until now most iPhones in eastern Europe sold for ridiculous sums a Russian friend was quoting me astronomical prices for unlocked phones in St. Petersburg. While they are still not cheap by most folks’ standards they are now available to a much wider market. You will soon be able to pick-up a unit in Kenya, Croatia, Jordan, etc. What most people don’t understand, and why this roll out is so important, is because it now makes an A-GPS enabled GSM phone available to markets from which most international aid organizations pull their staff.
As an American aid worker I was almost always a minority when I was in the field. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with some of the most talented professionals that Eastern Europe, the Middle East, SE Asia, and Africa had to offer. Now that these professionals have access to the same tools that someone on their lunch break in the Embarcadero has, and they are taking them to places where they are truly needed, the benefit that this type of technology has to offer will quickly become apparent.
Now, I may be pumping the numbers on Croatians, Kenyans and Iraqi’s that are going to be running out and throwing down a chunk of change on an iPhone 3G, and I am certainly ignoring the fact that most already own well equipped Nokia Nseries phones that have long had these capabilities, but my guess is that you’ll soon see a video clip of an aid worker speaking frantically into an iPhone 3G during the next major international event.
What do you think?