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Lubing the Edges of the Internet

Mumbai: crowd pleaser

Discussions around the recent GSM Association announcement of a universal Micro-USB phone charger are missing half of the point.

There are obvious stakeholders affected by this announcement, and then there are the street service providers. Beyond the network effects of consumers having many more charging options, and the environmental impact from not needing to ship a charger with every new phone the biggest consequence will be the ease of transferring data/content from street service provider to consumer, and consumer to consumer.

Widespread adoption of Micro-USB lowers barriers to entry for would-be services providers – they currently need support a range of memory cards, umpteen data cables, Bluetooth and InfraRed, and speeds up the transfer process. A mobile phone optimised Bollywood movie can take 20 minutes to transfer from a laptop onto a generic micro-memory card – currently it’s hardly convenient.

There is a place at the edges of the internet where the level of friction makes content and data grind to a halt. It’s largely unregulated. And it just got seriously lubed.