WSJ has an interview with Gartner analyst Mark Raskino on CK Prahalad’s Bottom of the Pyramid theme:
What is the thinking behind the suggestion that businesses in rich Western countries should be interested in “the bottom of the pyramid?”
A couple of different ideas are connected. The first is the rate at which people of the Third World are moving from subsistence to being consumers. That means huge numbers of new people to sell new technology to, particularly in China and India, but also elsewhere.
Because you can’t spend very much money developing these products, you are challenged to create your technology innovation under serious constraints. But many of those innovations are things that would not only be useful in Third World markets, they also would come back to the First World.
There are other consequences to consider, too. Once people have, for example, mobile phones, they can exchange prepaid minutes with each other. And that can become something like a currency exchange. You might exchange minutes with the vendor in the local market, or give five minutes to your grandfather or a friend as a present.