Facebook and Internet.org

Constant, significant innovation is certainly a key component in the never ending efforts of large tech companies to stay relevant.  Facebook in particular has been in the news a lot recently, dipping their multi-billion dollar toes into every possible puddle, from “Businesses on Messenger” e-commerce prospects to Internet of Things discussions at their recent F8 developers conference.  But what is the ultimate determinant of success, at least by wall street’s and stockholders’ standards? Growth.  How can Facebook ensure that these initiatives are not only successful, but also continue to grow the company at an almost unfathomable scale for the long term? Mark Zuckerberg knows he has to get Facebook and its supplemental apps and services in the hands of as many people as possible, and he is doing just that with the firm’s Internet.org project.

Internet.org is no small scale feat.  With this project, Facebook aims to “bring together technology leaders, nonprofits and local communities to connect the two thirds of the world that doesn’t have internet access.”  The two main pillars that this initiative is built on to make it economically feasible involve reducing both costs to receive data and amounts of data needed by ten times.  Zuckerberg describes the plan in a video on the Internet.org site:

Amazingly, Facebook has been able to deploy free internet services to seven countries (and counting) via the Internet.org app, allowing millions of people to connect to the rest of the world via mobile phone. The company has even announced a specialized fleet of unmanned drones, codenamed Aquila, with the ability to beam internet access down to people from the sky.  Although this idea may seem very futuristic, it is likely something with great potential to help alleviate the difficulties of poor technological infrastructure on the ground of many underdeveloped nations.  The Internet.org project has been a result of working with countless telecos, governments, and content partners.  It is a remarkable service that provides individuals in these nations (Indonesia, Tanzania, Kenya, Colombia, Ghana, India, and the Philippines) with access to basic information on anything ranging from education to health care to employment and news.

It is essential that managers have a keen awareness of the opportunities present in emerging markets, a notion that will become increasing clear as time progresses.  Thanks, in part, to one of the world’s social media giants and Internet.org, the most significant barrier to businesses reaching billions of untapped consumers – simple internet availability and access – is beginning to be overcome.  It is inevitable that improving technological innovation and investment by companies in addition to Facebook will only speed up this process – Google’s Project Loon is a great example.

The idea that so many new individuals are gaining internet and social media access every day in developing nations is a game changer.  It positively impacts the learning, sharing, and growth potential for both product/service marketing from outside companies, as well as in-country business initiatives.  Deloitte partnered with Facebook in a study highlighting the economic and social impact of extending Internet access in the developing world, with the below graphic being one visual that was produced on the value of such connectivity:
Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 10.11.21 PMAs the home page of the Internet.org site highlights, “2/3 of the world is not connected to the internet” – it is clear that talks of Facebook popularity dying, or the firm having saturated all its growth prospects, are quite premature.  Facebook has a very solid long term strategy to add value to for both its users and investors, and it will be very interesting to see how such grandiose plans play out in the future.  It is likely not a question of ‘will this effort be successful?’, but rather ‘how successful will this effort be?’  One additional note is the fact that Internet.org is not only a hugely beneficial undertaking for Facebook’s business monetarily down the road, but it also allows the company to develop a very positive brand image in a world where a reputation for corporate social responsibility is important.  Below are the first TV ads for the Internet.org initiative:

 

By: Josh Reed @jreed0614

11 comments

  1. I throughly enjoyed your post @jreed0614. The organization of the post made it easy to follow and the visuals and videos were great compliments to your written content. My takeaway is the last phrase in the three short videos: “The more we connect, the better it gets.” The studies between Deloitte and Facebook you mentioned above highlights that increased internet activity positively affects productivity. As a sprouting manager, it is extremely helpful to know about the impact the internet is having on developing countries and the implications this has on the world economy. On another note, I think Facebook is placing itself in a interesting position with their efforts to connect the world; it is a strategic decision (continued growth as you mention at the beginning) and an act of corporate responsibility/goodwill. Through the videos, one can sense the “feel-good” emotions Facebook is trying to send to the audience. I look forward to following Facebook and Internet.org’s collaboration.

  2. Great post. I am continually impressed at Facebook’s ability to innovate in positive ways. In many ways, I feel like it is more successful in this way than google, who really hasn’t done a heck of a lot (yet), except capitalize on search advertising.

  3. This is a really cool topic. One of the questions I was left with is how is Facebook going to make a profit or generate growth from the Internet.org project. In doing a little research, I found it interesting that Zuckerberg admits that Facebook will probably lose alot of money in the short term as a result of the project. He says that the social mission of making the internet more accessible is more important and is “the reason why Facebook is on the planet”. This seems to be in line with Zuckerberg’s overall strategy of setting up the company for long term growth and profitability, even if it means sacrificing profits in the short term. Check out the article I read below!

    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2015/02/20/facebook-may-lose-money-on-internet-org-and-thats.html?page=all

  4. @jreed0614 awesome topic! I think this initiative by Facebook is really cool. I like how you highlight the opportunities that bringing the Internet to these countries will offer for both the countries themselves as well as outsiders. The wealth of untapped customers is clear, so it will be interesting to see how different brands capitalize on this opportunity as Internet access spreads to these emerging markets. I also like how you note that we live “in a world where a reputation for corporate social responsibility is important.” To highlight that characteristic in millennials, an article AdWeek posted this morning they found that 43% of 18-34 year olds have petitioned brands to stop advertising or sponsoring a person, show or event relating to a social cause (article below if you want to see it). I think that establishing themselves as the key agent to bringing the Internet to these countries will do wonders for both Facebook’s current users loyalty as well as huge loyalty and acquisitions in the countries they bring the Internet to once they get to a point where they can access and utilize Facebook. The videos you shared were also great!

    http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/infographic-glimpse-millennial-mind-163712

  5. Great post! Relates very well to what we discussed in class of how the traditional Facebook platform has become saturated in the US and other 1st world countries, and that their future growth needs to come from 3rd world countries who do not have access to the internet. It’s crazy how quickly Facebook has grown into a technology and internet powerhouse and that they are providing internet to these 3rd world countries with the intention of giving them access to Facebook that will help them continue to grow. I am also impressed at Mark Zuckerberg’s ability as a CEO to lead this company and continue to succeed, as many people questioned whether he was fit to run the company once it was taken public.

  6. Great post! I agree with Julia on the subject of gaining profits out of this project. The project requires huge investments and I am not quite sure it will bring back so many revenue. Off course they will be able to do advertisements through the whole world, but many of these communities without internet don’t have the money or the resources to promote something in this type of platforms. They may not even have the necessity to do so. Facebook is doing a great job of connecting people throughout the world, however, many people in rural areas don’t need the connection at all, they are used to a different type of lifestyle. I also believe many of them don’t have cellphones or computers that will enable them to use the internet that is being provided to them. On the other hand, I do believe it is a great project, a great initiative of Facebook to continue to innovate. This time, they are not only helping the company, but they are helping the lives of many people in the world.

  7. This is a really great post. I remember talking about internet.org in my portico class last year, and it really has come far. I know that earlier in the semester we mentioned that a lot of people consider FB to be the internet. This is truly the case, when internet.org is the Facebook tool bringing the internet to people. I watched the video here, as well as Google’s Loon project video and noticed some differences. First of all they are competing with each other. Second, the way in which they seek the same goal is fundamentally different. Third, they are at very different places in terms of timeline until implementation. I think that they should work together. By doing this this huge task might actually be feasible. I also think that they need to decide to use either balloon technology or more traditional tower technology proposed by Facebook. I can not wait to see a world where EVERYONE is connected.

  8. The video about Mehtar and Mostak really stuck out to me, as I was reading your blog I could not help but think about the mutually beneficial relationship that will result if the entire world has access to Internet. There is no doubt that farmers in developing countries will increase production with access to the resources of the Internet. But, what do they have to offer to us? What tactics can they share with us who are already on the Internet to enhance our productivity or innovation? I am excited to watch the development of internet.org – I hope it finds immense success. I love the idea of a knowledge economy (where people benefit from others) and the Internet is definitely its backbone. Now we to get the rest of the world on the Internet to realize our full potential! Excellent post, Josh!

  9. I think Facebook is doing a really good job at promoting Internet.org. I can see how a lot of people could have mixed feelings about this project as it can be viewed as invasive to these cultures and trying to “Westernize” them. However, after watching the three videos you posted I thought the platform of sharing knowledge is very strong. Internet.org isn’t advertised as a solution to these countries problems, but rather a resource for them to learn and share information. I am still hesitant about how this will actually play out in regards to how it will adapt to and change these cultures, but it’s a very interesting project to follow.

  10. Really cool post Josh! Thanks for adding the videos; they really helped broaden my understanding of what Internet.org is aiming to do. I think is great how they use the people from these underdeveloped nations for their ads since this creates a kind of emotional attachment and gets people excited about Facebook’s initiative. I was personally touched by the Neesha ad, which got me thinking about all the children in the world who are growing up without the Internet. We take it for granted; kids have iPads on their hands since they are 2yrs. old so for us Internet access is something that has become essential to our lives. I think Facebook is doing a great job focusing on these emerging markets, which have a lot of potential.

  11. I was just reading an article about Viber in Nepal which is awesome, and now this! Facebook is obviously a huge company, I am just glad to see that they are actually making significant impacts on the world using the platform that they have built around the american public. Nice to see a big corporation taking some social responsibility!

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