Radical Instrument

IT is changing the exercise of power. Radical Instrument is picking up the signals.

Google and Microsoft in Uganda

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Google has launched “Google Trader” as part of its new SMS offering in Uganda – a service to facilitate marketplace transactions, particularly in agriculture.

Not surprisingly, a quick scan of Microsoft’s efforts in Africa reveals a slightly different focus – refurbishment and provisioning of PCs (particularly in Uganda), training for the government sector, work with international institutions like the UNHCR.

One can’t help but notice the superficial but potentially telling differences, and ask whether they’re reflective of the larger Google v. Microsoft story, which itself reflects deeper questions about the evolution of the IT. A scan of Google’s blog surfaces several references to volunteer efforts, to training local developers, to initiatives that embed in the daily cultural and economic milieu. Microsoft’s stories seem…well, larger (e.g., a new software package for an country’s educational sector), institutional, more “traditional” in terms of both technology and aid. There’s no dispute over the good, even the necessity of both approaches. But one can’t help but wonder if their evolution will tell a larger story about how the world will compute in the next fifty years.

Written by Mark

August 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm

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