Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shares thoughts on future of internet at MWC

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has told the Mobile World Congress that the company purchased WhatsApp to help with the shared vision of connecting everyone in the world.

Zuckerberg was keen to promote the growing movement that is Internet.org, which aims to make the internet affordable and accessible to all.

The movement says that devices as well as service plans and data are too expensive for those who are not connected to the internet.

Zuckerberg told the Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain, that there’s a set of basic services that should exist for all, such as access to weather information and Wikipedia.

He highlighted that these are all mostly text-based services which can be provided by low data plans that do not need to expensive to the customer.

He said internet growth across the world was slower than most people think it has been and in order to be able to connect everyone in the world Facebook has to connect with a lot of companies to achieve this.

Speaking at the congress he said: “Most people in the world do not have access to the internet. It’s only about a third of people that have connection to the internet.”

When questioned on the longer term promise for the operator who would be providing this service alongside Facebook and other companies, he defended the Internet.org scheme by saying that by providing a basic service it would show people how data plans are “rational and good for them” and would increase their internet consumption and knowledge of the world.

He was speaking  just days after his company completed the acquisition of social messaging service WhatsApp for $19bn and the first question put to him was about Facebook’s purchase of the company.

“WhatsApp is a great company and is a great fit for us. It’s the most engaging app that we have ever seen existing on mobile so far,” Zuckerberg said.

“What we see is that WhatsApp is on a path to connecting more than a billion people.”

He said that he wanted to help WhatsApp with its dream of connecting everyone in the world.


Video still courtesy of Mobile World Live.


Mozilla announces world’s cheapest smartphone – costing just $25

Smartphone ownership and internet connectivity could increase worldwide after Mozilla has announced a budget phone which will cost just $25.

Research has showed that by the end of 2013 22% of the global population were set to be the owners of smartphones. This roughly equals 1.4bn smartphones in use worldwide – the number passed the billion marks in October 2012.

However smartphone access is still only available to those who are in the higher end of the economic market.

Recent figures show that in Singapore, the country most penetrated by smartphones, there are 54% of people who use the advanced mobiles. For the USA and Australia this number falls to 35% and 33% respectively.

Budget mobile phones have been available in developing countries for many years now but Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox browser, is trying to improve the accessibility of smartphones and access to the web for as many people as possible.

Mozilla’s partnership with Spreadtrum, a chipset manufacturer, could help to pave the way for budget smartphones to be introduced into developing markets – both companies hope they will be able to increase access to information globally.

In producing what is likely to be one of the first budget smartphones, Mozilla has cleverly positioned itself away from the likes of Apple and Samsung who have all but got dominance in the high-end smartphone market.

Mozilla says that its new smartphones are already creating a stir with operators such as Telenor, Telkomsel and Indosat, who are all interested in carrying the phone.

Mozilla’s senior vice president of mobile devices and president of Asia operations, Dr Li Gong, said: “The combination of Firefox OS with Spreadtrum’s entry-level smartphone platforms has the potential to dramatically extend the reach of smartphones and the web globally.

“Firefox OS delivers a customized, fun and intuitive experience for first-time smartphone buyers and our collaboration with Spreadtrum enables the industry to offer customers an extremely affordable way to get a smartphone and connect with web apps.”

Spreadtrum says that the $25 phone will expand the global accessibility of open and web-enabled smartphones to first time and entry-level smartphone customers. It says it will achieve this by reducing the time and cost required for handset makers to bring the devices to the market.

The chipset that has been demonstrated has been designed with a unique low memory configuration that reduces the total bill of materials that is required to develop low-end smartphones.

The phone was announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and will naturally be running the Firefox operating system, which is now being used in 15 different mobile markets worldwide.


Image courtesy of Ict4d / Flickr creative commons