By Mayank Jain:
What we think: The world is a heavily connected global village. Everyone is on Facebook and everyone uses Wikipedia to research stuff for assignments. Emails are a thing of the past and they will be soon phase out to pave way for something new that will change the world for us. We assume that the world that we live in is connected with thin strands of communication and there can only be innovation in the way we communicate.
What we should know: Only one of three people in the world is able to access the internet. Mobile penetration is still low and there are countries where people have never heard of things such as Internet, Facebook or WhatsApp. Starting from 361 internet users in Ascension Island, there are many other countries like East Timor which lie in the lowest ranks in terms of internet penetration. The rate in some cases is as low as 0.5% of the population.
When Facebook had begun, the idea was to connect people in a certain university, then in a couple of universities and gradually the idea expanded to connect the whole world, making sharing easier. With the same objective, the company has entered into alliances, bought some companies like Instagram and WhatsApp. The whole objective is to reach as many people as they can with the help of internet and make the world a more open place.
Mark Zuckerberg, the 29-year-old CEO of the company has entered into a very valuable alliance with Internet.org which works to enable internet access in far flung places and remotest of villages in India and Africa. The announcement was made during the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress and Facebook unveiled its plan to research more in the area and spend this year in figuring out how it will connect the 2/3rd of the world to the existing internet users.
He highlighted various reasons for which countries are unable to adopt internet; cost and unawareness of the uses of internet rank at the top of this table with some blame also going to the lack of infrastructure to enable communications.
His vision to enable basic social networking, basic text messaging as well as basic email systems is bound to make Facebook, the dial tone of internet for the world in the coming years and buying WhatsApp has given him ready access to millions of people in the tier 2 and tier 3 cities of countries like India where internet is still a luxury instead of a necessity.
Unilever has also entered into this alliance and with their specialized understanding and access of Indian markets and consumers, they will help Facebook to develop systems and rope in different stakeholders to enable internet access. The stakeholders range from cheap handset makers like Nokia, wireless connection experts like Qualcomm, network operators who can charge cheaper rates like Vodafone and they will snugly complete the picture to deliver the power of internet to the last person in villages of the country.
When people of major corporations are busy extracting profits, flouting government clearances and cheating people every single day, it is certainly a fresh change to see someone in as powerful position as Mark Zuckerberg willing to go the extra mile to ensure empowerment of people far away from himself.