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Cell Division

Aside from the radio, mobile phones are the developing world’s most pervasive technology. Ninety-seven percent of Tanzanians, for instance, report having access to a mobile phone, while just 28 percent say they have access to a land line. Driving much of the growth, it appears, is the fact that consumers have found their own way ...

Aside from the radio, mobile phones are the developing world’s most pervasive technology. Ninety-seven percent of Tanzanians, for instance, report having access to a mobile phone, while just 28 percent say they have access to a land line. Driving much of the growth, it appears, is the fact that consumers have found their own way to cut costs — by splitting the bill. Nokia, for instance, recently found that more than 50 percent of users in India share or want to share a phone. Mobile-phone companies appear to be getting the message. Nokia recently released a series of handsets with features specifically designed for those sharing a phone, including call-by-call cost-tracking and language applications that allow users speaking different dialects to share the same phone. Allen Hammond, vice president for innovation at the World Resources Institute, sees the trend developing further. "It may well be that in two or three years they’ll end up making a phone with a biometric sensor that can register several different users with several different accounts," he says. Apparently, sharing is more than just good manners; it’s also good business.

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