For all of you that just purchased or want to purchase a new iPhone please take a couple minutes to step back and think about the Apple’s new product and what it means in terms of global connectivity and the importance of the Internet. Chances are if you are in the hunt for a new iPhone then you are probably connected to the Internet in more ways than one, either through your current cell phone, Blackberry, laptop computer, desktop computer, school computer or work computer. Yes, the iPhone is a phone, ipod and many other things, but most importantly, it serves as yet another Internet-penetrating-device. It’s another way for people to google, youtube and facebook to their heart’s content. Currently 69% of North America is connected to the Internet, according to Internet World Stats. I’m willing to bet this increases that number. Those of you who live in the United States like me know this country is very well connected. Most of us take LAN outlets and wireless hubs for granted nowadays. Need to check you e-mail? Pop into a Starbucks. Going on a date tonight and need to check movie times? Pull out your Blackberry. At times when I’m walking down the street or riding in a subway car it seems like everybody around me is connected to the Internet through some handheld device.
This introduction of the Blackberry, iPhone and Internet-ready cell phones is a testament to the importance of the Internet. These little tools are truly the closest thing to holding the world in the palm of your hand other than grabbing a globe and making a cute joke. Think of everything you have ever searched for, all the videos you’ve watched on YouTube, all of the music you’ve downloaded and articles and blogs you’ve read and you come to realize what an amazing invention the Internet is. You can learn languages, take virtual journeys through Tibet, manage your bank account and read Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, every public school in the United States is connected to the Internet. Nobody would think of you as crazy if you said everybody in the world should be connected to the Internet. However the problem of the lack of global connectivity exists in a very big way: Only 14% of the world is connected to the Internet. 14%!!! Only 43% of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America are connected to the Internet combined; however they make up about 82% of the world’s population! North America makes up only 5.1% of the world population but is connected to the Internet better than any other region in the world. That means people throughout the world have little or no access to what we take for granted day in and day out. Without computers and tools that allow Internet access people miss out on opportunities to learn skills and information essential to improving their lives. However, as dire as the situation may seem, this problem is more than solvable.
As you read this people are creating new ways to bring the Internet to those less fortunate.
Buying a new computer? Send your old one to Africa. Have an innovative idea on how to accelerate global connectivity? Give AMD’s Open Architecture Challenge sponsored by AMD 50×15 initiative a shot. By providing an opportunity to access the Internet you provide access to educational, social and economic information that can help allow people to improve their lives.
Before you buy that new iPhone or click on that icon that magically whisks you away to the Internet take a minute to think about those people who might really benefit from the Internet. They won’t be checking out movie trailers, they’ll be looking for ways to survive.