When I used to read fairy tales as a child, I used to wonder what if I could see what's there on the other side of the world, or where this road leads to, or how far is the nearest candy-shop. How neat it would be if I could have access to all kinds of information in the form of a magic wand. What if I didn't have to memorize the width and height of the Meenakshi temple.
We are living it today.
If you've met me in the last few months, chances are I've shown you my android phone.
I have an app (Places Directory) on my phone that not only lists the nearest restaurants/petrol pumps/ATMs and gives driving directions, it points in the direction. I could literally follow the arrow and reach to an ATM. There's another app (Shazam) that can recognize any song you play it, and discover the video on youtube. Another one (Sky Map) that I can use to recognize the constellations and planets -- I used it to identify Venus, the morning star (turns out, the white dot I had been passing off as a star is actually Venus). When I last went to my home town, my brother could track exactly where in the journey I was, with the precision of a few meters, since I had Latitude enabled on my phone. It only adds to the orgasm that I did not have to pay a penny for any of the above apps -- they're all free.
India has 360 million cell phone users. That's roughly one-third of the population. By 2011, it's poised to grow to 600 million. This means that cell phone would be the most unifying thing in the country, more so than language, and much more than the number of people who vote. The most interesting aspect of this population is that a majority of these are youngsters, and many are first time users. This is their first real interaction with a technological device with duplex connectivity. Imagine what it would do to democracy. You could have an election every day (I'm not suggesting that democracy is a good idea.. just that it's possible).
There's satisfaction, then there's happiness, and then there's the ecstasy you experience when you install an OS on your phone yourself. Why? Because I can.
Oh, and yes, I did run a hello world C program on it.
9 years ago