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Voices of the Mobile Generation Back in 1996 high school girls proved us wrong. We were in the mid of a communications revolution. All around us large brick like cell phones were being transformed into sleek hand held marvels. Outside every train station, haunts once reserved for lonely smokers were now being occupied by conspicuous young urbanites flaunting their loud one way conversations for the rest of the world to hear. It was a revolution that didnʼt go according to plan. It was supposed to be driven by the gray suited executives not these young Japanese high school girls. When DoCoMo first launched the “Pokeberu” pager (based on the English “Pocket Bell”), they conceived a device that could alert legions of salarymen to office directives and stock information but what transpired was a very different reality. By 1996, 64% of Japanese high school girls owned a Pokeberu, compared with only 31% of the executive class. Girls were taking these uniform, black matchbox sized devices and coloring them with their trinkets, charms and graffiti. Pokeberu became the springboard for Japanʼs mobile revolution in the late 90s, an explosion of innovation that gave the world its first mobile internet services and arguably, the blueprint for Appleʼs iPhone ecosystem today. When Japanese mobile companies wanted to know where the market would go next, they didnʼt consult high-powered road warriors but the lowly high school girl of Shibuya because itʼs how she used the phone today that would shape the behavior of the road warrior tomorrow. But this isnʼt a quaint story about innovation in Japan. What begins in Shibuya eventually filters out to the world through many social iterations to provide us with robust, refined products. When Facebook bought Instagram for a billion dollars in 2012, California owed a significant debt of gratitude to the pioneering work of Japanese high school girls 10 years earlier with the hugely successful “sha-mail” (picture mail) photo sharing service. William Gibson, the man who gave us the term “cyberspace” once wrote, “the future is out there, itʼs just not evenly distributed”. In a book written for marketers, technologists and social scientists alike, author Graham Brownʼs “The Mobile Youth: Voices of the Mobile Generation” takes us on such a journey of discovery. Brown shares with us stories of how the future of technology is already out there distributed among the worldʼs youth - from the slums of Rioʼs favelas to the Japanese high school girls of Shibuya, Tokyo. Itʼs in these real world stories, not focus groups, youʼll find the answer to the next big thing. http://www.mobileYouth.org/the-book youth


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