Nishtha KanalAug 27, 2013 11:17:32 IST
Mark Zuckerberg is at the helm of Internet.org, an attempt by some of the biggest tech companies to try and bring the world online, and he is taking criticism in his stride. Bombarded by detractors who believe Internet.org is more of a Facebook expansion policy than an attempt to bring the world online, Zuckerberg is unfazed and believes someone’s got to do this.
In interviews to Live Mint and Wired, Zuckerberg has adopted the same stance about his pet project and believes that Internet connectivity to those who have even a basic phone will help them get access to the same information as everyone else, providing users in developing countries with equal opportunities. “The richest 500 million have way more money than the next 6 billion combined. You solve that by getting everyone online, and into the knowledge economy — by building out the global Internet,” said Zuckerberg.
Bringing Internet to the world
The Facebook CEO believes that the criticism that Internet.org is a face for expanding the social networking website’s base is “kind of crazy”. He agrees that while Facebook wants to help connect more people, the initiative is not about the social network. “The billion people who are already on Facebook have way, way more money than the next 6 billion people combined. If we wanted to focus on just making money, the right strategy for us would be to focus solely on the developed countries and the people already on Facebook, increasing their engagement rather than having these other folks join,” he asserts. Facebook is free and there aren’t developed ad markets in a lot of developed countries. This initiative may not be profitable for the longest time but Zuckerberg is willing to take the risk.
Internet.org is formed by technology leaders of the world including Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, Opera, MediaTek and Samsung along with Facebook who aim to bring the Internet to parts of the world that are not connected yet. The initiative will work towards making data cheaper and more accessible, developing low cost phones high on quality as well as reduce the amount of data required to access application. The group will also support development of sustainable new business models that make accessing the Internet easier for people.
Zuckerberg in his interview says that India is a big opportunity in the Internet.org initiative. The group wants to work with mobile operators providing connectivity to phones like Nokia and Samsung – partners in the initiative. In India, says Zuckerberg, only a 100 million people or maybe more have broadband Internet connection. Getting more users online, despite the language barrier, is going to be a challenging task for the group. “With 82 million monthly active Facebook users in India and a comparatively small Internet subscriber base, we have a long road ahead,” he said. “But it’s not like we are going to do it all by ourselves, we have to work with all these companies in order to make this work.”
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