As oil was one of the major factors for our six-year tour of duty in Iraq, the vast deposits of minerals recently found in Afghanistan may have the same type of effect in protracting our stay in that country.
Smartphones stand to gain markedly as a direct result of the $1 trillion dollar 'mineral deposits' discovery in Afghanistan. The secret sauce is "lithium" and its abundance bodes very well for the cellphone market. Not only could the 'find' completely overturn the country's economy, it could escalate the smartphone wars, as iPhones, Blackberries and Androids go head on head to secure more of the precious mineral to help drive costs down and achieve greater marketshare.
In a world where smartphones and mobile computing devices increasingly are the norm, lithium is an indispensable battery technology. Future technology obviously may shift, but right now batteries based on lithium technology are the most popular rechargeable batteries around.
As the no-bid contracts of Halliburton, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and BP were allowed to lay claim to some of the largest oil fields in Iraq, don't be too surprised if Apple, RIM and Google don't start jockeying for position in Afghanistan to gain a similar foothold.
According to a Wired Report, it might take years to mine the areas with the greatest deposits of lithium. Since the deposits are primarily in the south and east of the country, where the fighting is the most intense, it might be a challenge to commence the mining process. If however, those challenges can be overcome, the "increased flow of lithium into the worlds' technology companies should help drive down the prices of expensive rechargeable batteries, and therefore phones, cameras, laptops and perhaps even fuel the growth of electric cars," notes correspondent Duncan Greene.
As far as which smartphone will become the victor in the Afghanistan smartphone wars, according to a DoD Buzz Report, Colin Clark speculates that as the Pentagon and Boeing explore the best uses for smartphones on the battlefield, "it looks as if the iPhone's proprietary software may mean the military will give it a miss and gravitate to Android phones because of their opening operating systems."
The military market alone would be a major 'coup' for whichever smartphone company reigns supreme. One contract could score tens of thousands of next-generation devices to be purchased for Army and Marine troops. Colonel Marisa Tanner of the Army's Future Force Integration Division says, "smartphones with more sensors (and) custom-designed apps to speed data collection and sharing" are leading the Army to test the Android, Windows Mobile and iPhones.
Considering the turbulent, war-strife country of Afghanistan, like Iraq - the perils of doing business on that battlefield is fraught with danger. How this battle to secure the mineral wealth will play out is truly a trillion dollar question.
The discovery of lithium plus all the other precious minerals and metals could actually intensify the war, now that there are more 'riches' to fight for. With these new-found minerals, also expect the Taliban to leverage deals with other countries based on sharing the spoils. China, India and Russia would all benefit by becoming strange bedfellows once again in the land that was known as the "New Great Game" when the US, Russia, China, and the UK all vied for a chance to seize control of the Central Asian oil pipeline back in the 90s.
The Enron scandals and cover-ups were a result of that era of greed and corruption. Let's hope the Smartphone Wars don't escalate to that fever pitch, and the cellphone companies in their thirst to seize monetary gain don't repeat the same mistakes.