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Smartphones in Kenya

There is a girl named Esther lives in Kenya, who sells water on the Kenyan road side for a few dollars a day. She also owns a smartphone which is highly praised in terms of empowering women.

But it went south for Esther when she installed an app for her smartphone. That app claimed to diagnose HIV just by analyzing the finger print on the touch screen.

She became worried when the researchers came to meet her at the road side workplace of hers.

The researcher Laura de Reynal, who worked on a year-long study into the experiences of first time smartphones users in Kenya said, “She did not know if it was true and she was panicking. And she was not the only one, there were others that came to came to us worried about this app and those were just the ones that were willing to speak out.”

The fact about that app is, it’s for prank which could be noticed by the comments on Google’s Play Store.

However, most of the people in Kenya got that app via Bluetooth connection, rather than downloading them via internet to save extra data. For this reason, the prank would not have been apparent via Bluetooth share.

Ms. de Reynal added, “People are not able to understand the limits of technology. They think because it’s a smartphone, it seems real and credible”.
A study was done by Mozilla Commission – the organization behind the Firefox Operating System, to find out what limits the people in the developing world from grabbing the opportunities offered by the web.

That study showed, men often take the utmost control and in some cases, limit the internet usage for the women. Another fact came out, if those accesses are given without any proper training might worsen the existing social problems like gambling.

Esther’s issue actually led the researchers to call Google and ask to embed warnings on such apps and think more to language barriers.

The web largely use English Language where the new users in Kenya primarily speak Swahili or Sheng (a Swahili-English hybrid).

This story told us how serious a mobile issue can be and firms need to be more careful before getting into new market.

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