The new challenge for internet companies is to connect billions of people living on the African and Asian continent. These two continents have a high number of inhabitants who have not discovered yet the benefits of the digital world. By means of the organization called Internet.org, Facebook has decided to be leader of this new mission, to take the web even into the most remote villages.
Millions of Zambian people connected to one another, is without a word of doubt an impressive philanthropic mission. However, this action might turn out to be extremely profitable one for Facebook in the long run.
Guy Rosen working for Internet.org has explained that about eighty-five percent of those people, who are connected to Internet, actually live in areas with good phone coverage. Although, these people have and use mobile phones they have not tried the Internet because of two main reasons: awareness and affordability. Internet on mobile phones is too expensive for those people and they also have no idea of the benefits that can get from using the web directly from their phones.
The plan is to solve these issues in Zambia. The African mobile operator, Airtel, has offered its users the possibility to use Facebook on their mobile phones. Not, it will also offer an Internet.org application that would allow users to access Facebook and other services on the web. Thus, users will be able to browse through the Wikipedia pages, weather forecasts, job sites and health sites without having to pay any additional fees.
The users will have the possibility to access all these online services by paying a visit to the Internet.org site. A warning signal will be given to them if they surf sites where data charges are applied. Only fifteen per cent of the people living in Zambia have used the internet. It is hoped that this project will change the situation. If the project turns out to be successful in Zambia, then the same model will be used in other parts of the African continent with other mobile operators.
Airtel hopes that some of the users who will try to use the internet out of their mobile phones will be willing to pay for the service in the future and for this reason has decided to invest some of its money into the scheme. It is still surprising the fact that Facebook has not brought its contributions to the data costs.
Lots of people in Zambian will have their first internet experience from their mobile phones. In some parts of Africa the words “internet” and “Facebook” are almost interchangeable. This initiative should bring lots of new Facebook users.
Facebook has around 1.3 million users. It is a company that has to show its investors that numbers and figures are rising continuously. Thus, the philanthropic mission of the internet.org project and the Facebook long term strategy go almost hand in hand.