Is Microsoft the answer to Africa's health woes?

The French group formerly known as Fone+, now combined under Craig Mundie into Microsoft's Unlimited Potential Group, is pushing telemedicine based on inexpensive, but powerful mobile phones.

Microsoft Research Fone+In my story earlier today I pointed out how African researchers see mobile data networks as the key to improving health outcomes on the world's poorest continent.

The French group formerly known as Fone+, now combined under Craig Mundie into Microsoft's Unlimited Potential Group, is pushing precisely the solution mentioned in our earlier story -- telemedicine based on inexpensive, but powerful mobile phones.

At an event yesterday in Jakarta, headlined by Mr. Bill himself, all this was tied together skillfully, complete with heart-wrenching videos, but linked even more skillfully into Microsoft's ambitions in the health care market.

Critics like those at Gadgettracker may carp, but a concentration on smart phones does link up well with the communications infrastructure of the developing world.

Mobile is it, while anything you can't carry in a pocket can be easily seen, and stolen. That's the reality and Microsoft is simply being realistic in trying to meet it.

The question I have is whether their vision isn't still too big, a Windows Mobile smartphone with a docking station on the handset so a TV can act as a shared display. Can they bring that out at a price competitive with other mobiles?

Years ago I wrote Dana's Iron of Laptops, an ounce on the desk is a pound in my hand. Time to update it with Dana's Iron Law of Smartphones. A dollar up-front may be more than I can afford.

That's especially true in Africa.[poll id=17]

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