Four years when Melissa and I published our paper on An Asian Perspective on Online Mediation, we were sort of mavericks in the Online Dispute Resolution community for even harbouring the thought that mobiles would dominate the field in less than a decade.
The resistance from the ancien régime was expected – hundreds of thousands of dollars had been invested in existing ODR systems for PCs. The architects, proponents and investors of these systems were not about to embrace new platforms, thin clients and web based services with open arms.
Just four years hence though, the facts are indubitable. As the Economist notes,
Mobile phones have proved to be a boon for the poor world. An extra ten mobile phones per 100 people in a typical developing country boosts growth in GDP per person by 0.8 percentage points, according to a recent study. Mobile-phone subscriptions in poorer countries accounted for just a quarter of the global stock in 2000, but had risen to three-quarters of the 4 billion total by the start of this year. The next challenge is to expand the use of mobile technology to access the internet. Despite huge strides in producing cheap netbooks that connect via mobile networks, the mobile phone may still provide the cheapest way to access the internet in the developing world.
I’ve already pointed out the direction ODR must go in if it is to leverage this explosive growth in mobiles and other key trends, including as the Economist confirms below the increasing footprint and low cost accessibility of mobile broadband.