The smartphone will be the on-ramp to the Internet, if not the only ramp, for the next wave of new users – largely because it’s the easiest way for them to get there and broadband isn’t available. For one, the mobile Internet can reach places that wired connections can’t (and likely never will). Moreover, the price is right. The cost of owning a smartphone is decreasing as manufacturers and carriers alike compete for new users. Soon millions of people will hop online for the first time, all thanks to the smartphone.
It’s terrifically exciting, and it’s also a terrific challenge.
New Skills for a New World
Think of it this way, more than half of the human population is ready to dive into the digital world with little to no instruction. It’s like getting behind the wheel of a car for the very first time and heading right onto the highway. Just like driving, getting around safely in this new world demands a new set of skills. Every one of those new users will need guidance on any number of things, like how to prevent identity theft, how to protect their personal privacy, and even how to build a business online. The list goes on.
But who’ll be there to teach them those skills? After all, nothing like that is covered in an owner’s manual. Whose responsibility is it anyway? I believe it’s everyone’s responsibility and I’m far from the only one who feels this way. It’s about changing social norms and learning how to care for yourself and the welfare of others on the Internet. We’re familiar with the stories of teen sexting, over disclosure, identity theft, cyberbullying – much of which could be curtailed if we, as users, understand the consequence and knew how to avoid them.
Our core assumption is that the content exists but it’s not presented to the users at the right time in an engaging fashion at a point when choices are made.
The Smart User Mission
This September, I was privileged to attend the annual Clinton Global Initiative, where industry and world leaders gather to create innovative solutions that take on the world’s most pressing challenges. One of the topics AVG rallied around was “Digital Citizenship,” a growing movement based on the belief that everyone on the Internet is responsible for making it a better place. As a result, I’m pleased to announce AVG’s Smart User mission, which is our Commitment to Action as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative.
The objective of the Smart User mission is to create the next two billion smart users on the mobile Internet. Along with carriers, device manufacturers, developers, content providers, and organizations across the globe, our aim is to provide two billion mobile Internet users with the tools and information they need to be safer, happier, and more productive online.
The mission’s approach is to engage these mobile users right from the start – the very moment they start using their phones. It begins with the “Smart User” app, which will launch when users first set up their phones. Right away it will provide fun and engaging content to help users make educated choices about their security and privacy. From there the Smart User mission will provide users with continuous guidance as they spend more and more time online. We’ll be partnering with mobile carriers, device manufacturers to get the Smart User app into people’s hands, and a wealth of partners like design agencies and celebrities will help contribute content along the way.
We’re very lucky to have Common Sense Media already signed up as a partner. Their history of advocating for children, families, and schools is a natural fit. The content and guidance they’ll provide will be invaluable, and this partnership will help us accomplish the Smart User mission.
My hope is that you share the growing point of view that we’re all responsible for a better Internet, and that everyone can take an active role in making it happen—from technology providers and manufacturers to content creators and consumers. If you’re interested in joining us on this mission, please get in touch. There are plenty of avenues to partner up, get involved, and build the next wave of two billion Smart Users.Email AVGSmartUsers@AVG.com.
Photo Courtesy of Barbara Kinney, Clinton Global Initiative
You can find more information on the Clinton Global Initiative at http://www.clintonfoundation.org/
November 12, 2014