Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday a partnership he is driving that has the goal of “To Make the World more open and connected.” They went further and stated that the goal is to “make internet access available to the two thirds of the world who are not yet connected.” To accomplish this Facebook is partnering, called internet.org, with some of the largest mobile technology companies, such as; Finnish handset maker Nokia, wireless chip maker Qualcomm and Korean electronics giant Samsung.
Since the Facebook completed it’s IPO it has been struggling to get back to the levels it was at and more importantly, to get to the levels it was expected to reach. It has been losing clients, gamers and it’s growth numbers were not making anyone happy. With the launch of “internet.org” Facebook is looking to jump start the process of regaining a lead position in the industry. By establishing these strategic partnerships and with these lofty goals it may have just taken a huge step in the right direction. If Facebook can indeed even come close to adding the 5 billion user target it will at the same time markedly increase their growth in clients. And obviously, more Facebook users is money in the bank for Facebook. So while this is a magnanimous and philanthropic undertaking it is also a very smart business position. Fordham University communications professor Paul Levinson, author of “New New Media”, said, “There’s nothing wrong with that. I think it is actually a profoundly important human right in the 21st century to have access to the Internet.” Levinson also added, “at the same time, I would never say that Facebook is run by angels.If the effort pays off, Facebook will grow its user base, advertising revenue and influence. Business and philanthropy, in this case, can go hand in hand.”
While Internet.org’s plans are still in their infancy, the plans include developing cheaper smartphones and methods that would allow the mobile apps to run on lower data requirements. Facebook would of course expect to add significantly more users to its current 1.15 billion. Yet Zuckerberg paints the effort as something more than just business.
“For nine years, we’ve been on a mission to connect the world. We now connect more than 1 billion people, but to connect the next 5 billion we must solve a much bigger problem: the vast majority of people don’t have access to the Internet,” Zuckerberg wrote.
He went on to say, people who already use Facebook “have way more money than the rest of the world combined.” That means it may “not actually be profitable for us to serve the next few billion people for a very long time, if ever. But we believe everyone deserves to be connected.” Facebook says it has invested more than $1 billion so far to connect people in the developing world to the Internet. The Internet.org project is Zuckerberg’s latest venture that seeks to meld philanthropy with ambition.