This week I’m at the Mobile World Congress, the annual jamboree for some 50,000 people from 200 countries whose livelihoods are focused on the device you probably wake up with, carry everywhere with you, and are more likely to miss than even your misplaced or stolen credit card: your mobile phone. I’m here because more than half of social media activity globally happens via mobile handsets and because if people from Mashable, Twitter, FourSquare and Google are turning up at the same place at the same time, it’s probably worth checking out. 2011 is signaling the full-on dominance of mobile web, internet, and social media in the mobile space.
There’s much to be in awe of here. In just the past 48 hours I’ve played with the 3-D handset on offer from LG, and seen a friend based in Nairobi brandish a $50 Huawei smartphone with Google’s operating system, Android (note that in the U.S., the typical Android handset costs north of $500 without subsidy from a mobile operator). And for the two billion or so people globally who probably can’t afford even a $50 handset, there was welcome news Monday when a firm called Gemalto announced that it had crafted what I’d call a poor man’s version of Facebook, housed on a SIM card and using SMS to send and receive data between handsets and Facebook servers. This means Facebook, which already reaches 600 million people, will potentially be available to almost anyone on the planet with a mobile device.