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Task force/Recommendations/Offline 2

From Strategic Planning

Outline of offline recommendation #2: Use of cellphones

Third world has remarkable cellphone penetration, compared to internet. How can we leverage this ?


Give 3 billion people with no internet connection access to the Wikimedia content via cellphones.


  1. Convince network providers and/or manufacturers to have WP content pre-installed on new cellphones
  2. Support third party developers/providers of open offline storage standards (such as OpenZim), readers which use them (such as Linterweb), and proprietary offline solutions (such as WikiPock).
  3. Encourage development of non-internet distribution systems, e.g. SMS article requests.

Main assertion

Cellphones provide the most cost efficient and far reaching delivery mechanism. E.i. even if it takes an investment of 30 million USD to implement this goal, this would still be no more than one cent per person.

Further deliberations in support of the below can be found at Task force/Offline/Cellphone and Task force/Offline/IRC

Fact: Cellphone hardware is the most ubiquitous hardware platform in limited-internet markets

According to the Information Society, cellphones are owned by 33% of people in Africa, a number that is rising rapidly; by contrast, only 4% use the Internet, and only 1% have broadband access. In the Asia/Pacific region, the comparable numbers are 37%/15%/3%. Also see this article on market penetration of cellphones in the developing world.

Fact: There are already suppliers of Wikipedia offline for cellphones

See http://www.wikipock.com/ . The Wikipock collection is 7 GB, which includes all the English WP, as well as ES and PT, no pictures and limited table rendering. A new version of the software due out next month will be open source, reduce storage space and speed up searching. It works on a variety of platforms, and gives full table rendering.

Patrick Collison's mobile phone version is also available for download, though only for the iPhone or iPod (which WikiPock does not serve).

Wapedia has proved to be a very popular site for online browsing of Wikipedia, as evidenced by its Alexa traffic rank (2,714 in the World, as of January 11, 2010). This suggests that people are happy to use Wikipedia on their cellphone.

See also WikiReader - http://thewikireader.com - a dedicated wikipedia palmtop.

Fact: Software requires a platform-specific reader, or might use the cellphones built-in browser

Currently, the need for search and compressed data formats suggests a reader.