Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Digital Divide

Zero rating means subsidized access from mobile providers to selected areas on the Internet as a means of gaining increased subscription rates. A Virgin Mobile deal offers unlimited access to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest for $5 a month. Music lovers love T-Mobile for their zero data unlimited music streaming service. It offers tunes 24/7 through all the top services like iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio.

Is there space left on World Wide Web for start-ups?
Is there space left on World Wide Web for start-ups?
Revenue the mobile phone providers lose out on by handing out free or below cost data is more than made up by increased subscription rates and the returns that come with other services used. Mobile phone users get what they need for free or at a small cost, providers get more business - a winning situation for both parties. It all sounds great, but as with most things advertised with the four letter f-word (free); there is no such thing as something for free. Here the losing party is Internet-based businesses and in particular start-ups.

How zero rating affects start-ups

Subsidized access makes the already popular apps more popular and leaves less room for start-ups to get their share of the market. To get in on the action, tech start-ups have to include the widely held social media streams as part of their marketing plan or simply lose out on a chunk of the market. Social media areas like Facebook are closed off versions of the Internet, not just social tools. You can shop, play games, gather information and do marketing - all in one area. In a MerchantCircle survey it was discovered that 65.7% of businesses use Facebook as a marketing tool. Think of a bag of popcorn in the microwave, the kernels slowly start popping up one by one and then it all goes crazy. Just like that Facebook users started popping up all over, and fast. The difference is that Facebook is an apparently never-ending bag of popcorn and its explosive personal user-base is closely followed by its business user-base.

What is a start-up to do?

The solution is clearly for businesses to get their Facebook profiles up there; start groups, join groups, Tweet, stream, Pin etc.

Unfortunately there is one problem with this, choice. Most start-ups would like to reserve the right to freedom of choice, and rightly so. It has become such an issue that the Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones of Chile made a ruling that zero rating was in violation with net neutrality laws and banned it as of June 2014. Not many countries take the stance that Chile has and social media subscription rates continue to skyrocket. Whether mobile providers will take a step back and stop the trend of subsidized access, only time will tell. Until then, hopefully there still is a space on the World Wide Web for start-ups.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

You are on the Internet Right now - and you are not Alone

Over two billion people are connected every single moment of every single day and the numbers are rising. Around 3.6 million Google searches were made in 1998 throughout the year. By 2013 nearly six billion Google searches were made every day. There is a whole of questions being asked around the globe.
Who answered these questions B.G. (Before Google)?

Are we alone?

are we alone - Frederick Achom blog
are we alone?

Google's first official year in existence is 1998, but before that, people were getting into the habit of typing things into technological devices. The very first text message was sent in 1992. Today more text messages are sent in a single day than the number of people on earth. The point is that technology is growing really, really fast and spreading just as quick. Another interesting statistic is the number of Internet devices. In the mid 80's there were around a thousand of these contraptions knocking about. By 2012 the numbers were approaching ten billion and according to Morgan Stanley, this number will be as high as 75 billion by 2020.

So, everyone is on the Internet...not!

With numbers like this, surely the Internet is everywhere, right? Wrong. There is a barren wasteland of no Internet in less developed places all over the world. Ethnic groups in remote areas around the globe have no access at all and in some areas the Internet is only accessed by improvisation. In parts of Africa e-mail is received at a central point, printed out and delivered to regions with no coverage while other information from the Internet is broadcast on local radio stations. Tedious and simple, sure, but that is just for now. News hot off the tech press says that pretty soon Google will be taking care of those poor Internet-deprived souls too.

Imagine balloons floating around in the stratosphere 20km's from earth sending out Internet signals to everybody, including to those isolated tribes in New Guinea, India and South America.

Does it sound like (loon)acy?!

This is exactly what Google is working on with their quest to make the World Wide Web truly worldwide with Google Loon. The WiFi beaming Loon balloons have been tested in New Zealand, and have provided a Brazilian school with much needed Internet access. The reasons behind doing this could be entirely altruistic but is more likely to be financially driven. Perhaps Google is planning on offering ISP services or simply hoping to achieve increased revenue due to increased exposure. Who really knows why and who knows if they will be successful in this very ambitious venture. What do you think? Is this idea another Google great, or simply loon(y)?