A lot of people have interests outside of their day jobs. For some, it might be volunteering, or woodworking, or fantasy sports. For Mark Zuckerberg, this takes the form of things like connecting the rest of the world to the mobile Internet.
The project we’re talking about here is Internet.org, which is a partnership of leading technology companies that have joined forces around the goal of getting internet access for the billions of people worldwide who don’t currently have it. In addition to Facebook’s backing, the project is also supported by partners like Nokia, Samsung, and Qualcomm. While connecting everyone in the world to the Internet is certainly a lofty goal, if anybody is going to achieve it then this looks like a pretty solid team to put on the field.
The challenges that face this project are nothing to scoff at. They include the expense of devices and service, a lack of available mobile networks and power supply, and language barriers. Despite that, Zuckerberg told CNN last summer, “…we have a rough plan for what we think we’ll need to do to pull it off.” Considering the daunting task ahead, that’s a pretty good start. According to Internet.org, the partners will be focusing their efforts on affordability, efficiency, and business models.
So, what does this have to do with your small business? Well, if you have a website and/or a presence on social media, this could mean a huge expansion of your audience one day. Right now the audience you’re able to communicate with via the Internet is only one third of all the people in the world. Imagine how your business might need to adapt if/when that other two thirds logs on. It might be worth considering ahead of time.
In an article on Mashable about Zuckerberg’s recent discussion of Internet.org at the Mobile World Congress, Adario Strange reports that part of the strategy of the project will involve decreasing the cost of data while increasing the efficiency of delivering advertisements. Strange hits the nail on the head about the first question that comes to mind in light of this: “isn’t this just a way for Facebook to strengthen its grip on the Internet?”
With a project as important as connecting the world, I’m not sure this bothers me. It’s going to require a lot of resources to make this happen, and in order for it to be a priority for the project’s partners, there has to be some motivation in it for them. These are not non-profit firms, after all.
What do you think about Internet.org, and the potential effects it might have on the larger economy and small businesses? Let us know in the comments below.