Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Of Technology & Toothbrushes....

Today, on my way to work, as always, I was listening to RJ Hrishi Kay's morning show on 94.3 Radio One. Today's guest was Jagdish Mahapatra, McAfee's MD for India and SAARC and the topic of the day was internet security...
Jagdish started off the talk with an interesting observation - that there are only 2 billion toothbrushes in the world as compared to 5 billion smartphones...
Well... I found that a bit intriguing and it took me a while to rationalise these statistics. As of the last count, the world's population is a tad higher than 7 billion. So despite toothbrushes having been in use since the 1700s when William Addis of England is believed to have pioneered the first mass-produced toothbrush, it had taken over 200 years for this low tech, mass-produced "device" to reach a penetration of just about 2 billion.
Why?
Perhaps, the reason is that most of use only brush at a time, at least I would think its heresy to use more than one brush at a time. Also a lot of cultures, including our own, have their ingenious and traditional ways of maintaining oral hygiene. We have the datun in India, the Arabs have miswak. The ancient Romans and Greeks used toothpicks. The Chinese used horse-tail hair attached to an ox-bone handle. Africans used soot from the fire that was used to cook their meals. A lot of these cultures still maintain these traditions.
So while, we only have 2 billion toothbrushes, oral hygiene need not be all that abysmal.
On the contrary, technology has been a disruptive and an epochal event in human history. The first mobile phone was made in 1973 and in just about 40 years, this technology has literally flooded the world. The need to connect, this primal instinct, has probably been the reason for the explosive growth.
Also once we get hooked on to these devices, we end up with more than one - a basic phone would lead to a smart phone, which may later co-exist with, say, a tablet....
I have seen that happen around me, in my family.... the convenience of accessing the Net on a mobile device has made my family shift from using a PC to a mobile device! That, I suppose, would be a common trend across the world....
So, I concluded, 5 billion isn't too high afterall...
And then this interesting observation made for an animated lunchtime discussion at office....

2 comments:

Charu Kayastha said...

It gives an interesting analysis on income/ consumption pattern on the top of the pyramid and bottom of the pyramid...

Charu Kayastha said...

It gives an interesting analysis on income/ consumption pattern on the top of the pyramid and bottom of the pyramid...

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