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The World's Most Revolutionary Cell Phone The World's Most Revolutionary Cell Phone

The World's Most Revolutionary Cell Phone

by Alissa Walker
January 7, 2011

On the cover of GOOD 006, the Design issue, we ran an image of an AK-47 and asked this question: Is there design this good that doesn't kill people? According to a story in Foreign Policy, there is: the Nokia 1100 cell phone. Like an AK-47, the article posits, the Nokia 1100 is strong and hyper-efficient: built to endure the less-than-ideal conditions for electronics in developing nations. Yes, this is likely the "starter phone" you got for free when you signed your first cell phone contract.

Possessors of iPhone and Androids might poo-poo this comparison when looking over its rudimentary features. Designed in 2003, the Nokia 1100 doesn't show Hulu or your Facebook page; in fact, the only things it does do is send texts and make calls (insert AT&T joke here). But here's the kicker: The 1100 is owned by 250 million people worldwide (compare with 73.5 million iPhones) and is destined to see the greatest growth in the market. That's why initiatives like Project Masiluleke, a program headed by frog design to connect HIV and tuberculosis patients with care in Africa, are using text-message technology to reach their audience. Something to keep in mind for anyone trying to design the next revolutionary mobile technology: For anything to truly be impactful on a global scale, it's definitely not going to be an app.

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