[NA-Discuss] Next Billion Users accessing the Internet on Mobile

Glenn McKnight mcknight.glenn at gmail.com
Sat Nov 10 14:39:55 UTC 2012


The chances are slim that a person living in poverty in a developing nation
has access to the Internet on a computer. It's expensive and, in some
places, there's a lack of infrastructure to support it.

The chances are better, though, that that person owns a cellphone. It's
probably not an iPhone or an Android, and he or she probably hasn't
purchased a data plan for it, but it has the ability to access the Internet.

Google believes that this category of cell phone user is the future of its

On Thursday, Google, alongside the local mobile carrier Globe Telecom,
announced a new service in the Philippines called Free Zone,
It allows basic mobile users to access Google products including search,
email and Google Plus.
[image: A woman talks on her cellphone in a slum area of Bhopal last
Asia <http://www.npr.org/sections/asia/>

India's Census: Lots Of Cellphones, Too Few

The free service is intended to eventually entice users to shell out for
more advanced phones and, presumably, more expensive data plans. If the
service is successful, it will expand into other countries.

"It's aimed at the next billion users of the Internet, many of whom will be
in emerging markets and encounter the Internet first on a mobile phone,
without ever owning a PC," AbdelKarim Mardini, product manager for Google,
told Reuters.

Google is not the only tech company seeking to tap into emerging markets
this way.

As Quartz's Christopher Mims
Facebook has long considered mobile on non-smartphones in the developing
world key to the company's continued expansion.

To that end, Facebook has created two ways for non-smartphone users to
experience the social networking service.

In 2010, Facebook launched Facebook
a text-only version of its service. Users in 45 countries with "mid-range
feature phones" can click on links, send messages, and update their status.

The features of the app were basic, but enough to prompt the kind of
wildfire success that fuller versions of Facebook had in the United States.
In Africa, the number of people on Facebook jumped 114 percent in 18 months.

And in 2011, Facebook and Snaptu announced <http://blog.snaptu.com/?p=202> a
new app called Facebook for Every Phone. It was built for over 2,500
different types of mobile devices, constituting around 80 percent of the
devices sold worldwide. It had 30 million users at acquisition.

Still, there's room for both Facebook and Google to grow in these markets.

Mashable's Alex
that approximately three-quarters of the world's population has access to a
mobile phone, and that the majority of those subscriptions are in
developing countries.

But owning a mobile device does not yet automatically equate to having
Internet access. For example, according to *The
*, only 81 million Indians, or 7 percent of the population, use the
Internet, while 507 million own mobile phones.

Narrowing that gap is the task for Internet-based companies in the 21st
Glenn McKnight
mcknight.glenn at gmail.com
skype  gmcknight
twitter gmcknight

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