Mark Zuckerberg announced at Mobile World Congress on March 2nd, Facebook’s Internet.org app is expected to partner with Google’s Project Loon to provide internet access to people worldwide.
According to Zuckerberg, approximately 90% of the world lives within range of internet access, but they are limited by the infrastructure of their countries and they haven’t learned how the internet can be such a vital part of life, and growth.
The Internet.org app is the fruit of Facebook’s mission to connect the world. It does so by providing free data to users for basic internet services, but access to other parts of the web require free users to purchase a data plan. The idea behind the app is that it will entice users to buy more data plans – thus increasing sales for providers – by first giving away access at no cost.
Already, the app is available to 500 million people in 6 different countries, which has given seven million people the opportunity to use mobile data for the first time. In addition, operators saw a 40% increased rate of acquisition of new customers since its partnership with the app.
According to Josh Constine from TechCrunch.com, the partnership between Facebook and Google goes beyond humanitarianism;providing internet access to billions of people will eventually pay off for both companies. He writes, “By facilitating access, these platforms endear themselves to web rookies who might even mistake their multi-featured services for the Internet itself. Forging this relationship could pay dividends down the line if previously unconnected people become loyal Facebook or Google users.”
Although there is definitely a long road ahead before internet access is universal, the partnership between Facebook and Google and their efforts are steps in the right direction to bring access to the internet and its information to those who have done without for far too long.