FrontlineSMS and the culture of the goodie-bag

This week sees the launch of the new and improved FrontlineSMS (or, at the risk of jumping on the bandwagon, FrontlineSMS2.0 as I prefer not to call it). As well as support for Windows, Mac and Linux, we’re also launching a new website and, through a growing band of global volunteers, gearing up our awareness-raising campaigns. Although this feels like something of a fresh start, FrontlineSMS already has users in over forty countries around the world and continues to generate a buzz of excitement among NGOs who come into contact with it.

Next week will also see the new FrontlineSMS debut at Global Messaging Congress 2008 in Cannes, where I’m doing a keynote address on the use of mobiles – text messaging, more specifically – among the global NGO community. This follows on from my February talk at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Although most mobile industry events continue to be dominated by money-makers, aspiring money-makers and deal-breakers, it’s refreshing to see NGO work finally gaining traction. Clearly, as more and more companies turn their attention towards emerging markets we’ll see an increasing emphasis on the ‘bottom of the pyramid‘ at these kinds of events.

With the exception of my twenty-five minute talk, the remainder of the two-day conference turns its attention back to mobile advertising, the mobile web, user experience, messaging business models, the role of IM and the future of mobile messaging. There will also be the chance to unwind with colleagues at the Global Messaging Awards bash, which I helped judge last month. It’s going to be a very interesting couple of days, and I’m looking forward to hearing from some of the leaders in their field and exploring ways of leveraging some of this innovation for the benefit of the non-profit community.

And, just to be sure that on their way home no-one forgets the considerable impact of mobile technology to promote positive social and environmental change around the world, delegates will get a FrontlineSMS goodie-bag. I won’t spoil the surprise, but let’s just say that the contents will help remind them of the considerable challenges many mobile users face in the developing world.

Thanks to Wieden+Kennedy for the cute photo.