I had attempted to post this earlier, but managed to lose my text and ran out of time. It does seem, though, that this is not a bad time to argue for a synthesis of the phone and the laptop.
I have long argued for using technology that is economically helpful to the family of the educational user, so that it becomes a tool seen as worth supporting. For this purpose the mobile phone would be best, as it has been shown to assist in raising the economic level of users. But for the purposes of education we need to add some of the functions of the laptop. Depending upon the level of education that it should provide, this could be done with as little as the addition of a stylus touchpad.
I say this because it appears that the initial big application would be basic literacy - both for children and for adults (presumably with their childrens' help). The introduction to the letters of the alphabet (whichever one is used locally), the correspondence of sounds to the characters and combination of letters, the ability to practice drawing letters and to have the program correct or otherwise indicate improvements, all are functions performed by every teacher in every classroom for the first year of education. The advantage here would be that parents could engage in the same lessons and learn literacy where they never would have the time or be willing to suffer the loss of pride to come into a classroom - even if they would be permitted there by school rules.
It's certainly true that adults learn more slowly and differently than do children, and the programs would have to take this into account. But the basic technology required is pretty much covered by the mobile phone - given a speakerphone mode and a stylus touchpad. Different modules of the programs could be downloaded from the network, eliminating the need for mass storage, and the screen would have to be capable of a certain amount of resolution, but given the ability of the program to speak and to hear pronunciation of letters, such an enhanced phone could provide the start for great increases in basic literacy (and numeracy as well, since numbers and arithmetic can be handled with the same device).
To create such a "literacy phone" and the necessary programs in a sufficient number of languages and cultural settings would be a big task, but it would produce results much faster than the expansion of numbers of laptops. Later applications could make the same phone an electronic book, which would give it a place in the education process well beyond the basic stages.
Laptops are indeed necessary for the higher levels of the educational process - but don't forget you have to start simple.