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The Almighty Buck Businesses The Internet

Facebook and Google's Race To Zero 53

Posted by timothy
from the just-don't-go-dividing-by-it dept.
theodp (442580) writes "As Facebook and Google battle to bring the Internet to remote locations, Alicia Levine takes an interesting look at the dual strategy of Zero Rating and Consolidated Use employed by Google's FreeZone and Facebook's 0.facebook.com, websites which offer free access to certain Google and Facebook services via partnerships with mobile operators around the world. By reducing the cost to the user to zero, Levine explains, the tech giants not only get the chance to capture billions of new eyeballs to view ads in emerging markets, they also get the chance to effectively become "The Internet" in those markets. "If I told you that Facebook's strategy was to become the next Prodigy or AOL, you'd take me for crazy," writes Levine. "But, to a certain degree, that's exactly what they're trying to do. In places where zero-rating for Facebook or Google is the key to accessing the Internet, they are the Internet. And people have started to do every normal activity we would do on the Internet through those two portals because it costs them zero. This is consolidated use. If Facebook is my free pass to the Internet, I'm going to try to do every activity possible via Facebook so that it's free." The race to zero presents more than just a business opportunity, adds Levine — it also presents a chance for tech companies to improve lives. And if Google and Facebook fall short on that count, well, at least there's still Wikipedia Zero."
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Facebook and Google's Race To Zero

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  • by Whiteox (919863)

    It costs them zero? There is still a hidden data charge from the mobile operator as part of a plan. Nothing is free.

    • Yes, it does cost them zero. There is no charge from the mobile operator.

      free access to certain Google and Facebook services via partnerships with mobile operators around the world.

      It's not a new thing, either; my Kindle Paperwhite gives me access to the Amazon store, for free, practically all over the world (possibly also Wikipedia). My previous Kindle allowed me browser access to the whole internet, at least when I tried it. Unfortunately my little island was, at that time, one of the few places around the world where the service wasn't available, but by going to the right part of the coast I could connect to F

  • Umm you still paid for service.. Thru the nose too since it was in effect 'metered' since you pay for X minutes a month.

  • by rasmusbr (2186518) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @09:00AM (#46675611)

    "If I told you that Facebook's strategy was to become the next Prodigy or AOL, you'd take me for crazy,"

    That's not crazy, that's obvious. You're approximately the millionth pundit on the ball with regards to Facebook's strategy.

    • I see this as a way to become a "walled garden" for anyone using their free service eventually....

      This is for the stuff facebook and Google are doing to bring internet access to places that have none at present...

      Once the full system is up they invent scarcity somehow to justify charging extra to visit non-google sites

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        Sort of like AOL and Prodigy in the olden days, where they were also walled gardens... try this on for size:

        Say we have an internet of logins and micropayments. Access via a paid account with FB or Google gives you 'free' access to all these login and micropayment sites (as FB and G buy bulk accounts).

        I think this is not at all implausible as their eventual goal. Makes you rethink the notion of logins and micropayments, don't it??

         

  • by ganjadude (952775)

    "If I told you that Facebook's strategy was to become the next Prodigy or AOL, you'd take me for crazy,"

    No, That is pretty much what every startup has been trying to become when it grows since AOL, There are still people out there I know (my father for instance) who goes to www.aol.com before they go anywhere else because aol is what they know, he still equates aol with the internet and im sure there are others out there that do the same (hell i bet some people are still paying aol for "access") Everyone would LOVE to be in the position AOL was in 96-2003

    • Re:AOL (Score:4, Interesting)

      by VortexCortex (1117377) <(VortexCortex) ( ... -retrograde.com)> on Sunday April 06, 2014 @10:19AM (#46676145)

      No, That is pretty much what every startup has been trying to become when it grows since AOL,

      And then there are those like me... A non-startup who is trying to grow the absolute least possible, in fact, the goal is to become the inverse of Prodigy or AOL. By working to knit together distributed technologies to leverage the machines you already have and a network that isn't owned by anyone can thus profit everyone. Unfortunately, some sophomoric attempts have failed and left a bad taste in folks mouths, and the "web" of data silos is caustic to the distributed notion that everyone is a peer and there is no gate-keeping server or client at the packet level, even though that is the very notion that gave the Internet the democratizing and self healing properties such data silos exploit for profit.

      Realize the truth: Through these centralized services no one can truly using the Internet to its fullest. There need be no middle-men besides our ISPs for grandma to remotely comment on the photos in my vacation folder. It is the crappy state of pre-Internet operating systems that is to blame for the sad state of affairs, IMO.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        I personally agree with everything you just said, however as noted, the majority dont think things through and only carer about the bottom line
      • by rasmusbr (2186518)

        It is the crappy state of pre-Internet operating systems that is to blame for the sad state of affairs, IMO.

        What specifically about Windows/Unix/Linux is holding back decentralization? Power management? Slow wake-up from low power modes?

        I always thought the basic problem is that there isn't an always-on (or always ready to wake up) box in most people's homes that developers can target.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        There need be no middle-men besides our ISPs for grandma to remotely comment on the photos in my vacation folder.

        Nothing except that 99% of the population:
        a) Don't have a 24x7 connected box
        b) Even if they do, it doesn't run the application stack you need and they don't want it to
        c) Don't have the skills to run a server and keep it patched/backed up/punch through firewalls etc.
        d) Don't have the time or interest to fiddle with it

        How many people do you know that operate their own email server as opposed to some webmail provider? Run their own web server for their WordPress blog? Use their own photo/video sharing server i

        • by Reziac (43301) *

          Indeed... even tho I'm rather more "I'd rather do it myself" than most folks, I see no reason why I should dink around with my own mail server and FTP (I keep a mirror of a large FTP site) when I can pay $6/mo. for unlimited space/mailboxes, with automatic backups and probably better security than I could reasonably manage, via my 1&1 hosting account.

  • by koan (80826)

    I can't be anything but cynical when Facebook is the only access, in fact it's a crime IMO.

    • by bbsalem (2784853)

      Aside from the idea of an extranet, non-IP, more dynamically routed mesh network as an answer to non NN and snooping, there are other reasons to doubt that Facebook or Google will really take over the Internet. People make the mistake of thinking in terms of current technology and they assume wrongly that technology that might be new here in the U.S. in five years might not get adopted faster in new markets than here. So the assumption has to be that the plans of Facebook and Google to bring the Internet

  • And people have started to do every normal activity we would do on the Internet through those two portals because it costs them zero

    If there are billions of people who are prevented, by cost contraints, from accessing the internet I have to wonder whether FB and Google are executing their strategies for purely altruistic reasons, as part of a long-term (decades?) strategy, as a means of making a fast buck, or simply because the other guy is doing it - and they don't want to be left behind?.

    Altruism I can understand. But making FB the home page of a continent or two ... is tht really a benefit of the people receiving free internet?

    If p

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If there are billions of people who are prevented, by cost contraints, from accessing the internet I have to wonder whether FB and Google are executing their strategies for purely altruistic reasons, as part of a long-term (decades?) strategy, as a means of making a fast buck, or simply because the other guy is doing it - and they don't want to be left behind?

      Posting AC to avoid burning mod points.

      I'd expect the real reason is that many of these poor people are in areas that might become politically unstable, that the basic desire to give them internet access is to keep track of their activities.

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      I don't think it's about selling merchandise. I think it's more likely about becoming the one-low-monthly-payment access to an internet of micropayments... basically they'd be a reseller for such websites, same as Prodigy did in the olden days. Meanwhile, they still can sell your eyeballs to advertisers for a little over-and-above the guaranteed monthly rent paid by subscribers.

      Think on that when someone promotes the notion of micropayments... who will it really benefit?

  • "people have started to do every normal activity we would do on the Internet through those two portals because it costs them zero"

    Typical reductive garbage. The internet is important for 5 billion reasons. Sharing photos is just on of those.

    This is like saying "people watch every normal TV show through those three channels (ABC,NBC,CBS)

    • Perhaps things have since changed, but Facebook explained in the linked (2010) article, "Rather than making photos viewable on 0.facebook.com, we put the photos one click away so they don't slow down the experience. You can still view any photos on Facebook if you want but your regular data fees will apply."

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @09:41AM (#46675861) Homepage Journal

    I don't understand. Am I the only person left who really doesn't want anything for free?

    I don't play F2P games because they suck. I don't want to run my internet activity through the portal at Starbucks or watch "ad-supported" television. No, I don't want that t-shirt with your company's logo on it, even if you're handing it out for free at the event.

    I'm really OK with paying for stuff. I'll even pay extra for really good stuff. I don't even like getting stuff for free. I donate to The Document Foundation when I download Libreoffice because I want to pay my way.

    On the other hand, I understand perfectly the notion of using filesharing to get better service or for political purposes. If Ubisoft doesn't want to release a demo for its latest game, I'm happy to use the one the Internet makes for me because I've been burned before by Ubisoft (or EA, or whoever). And if the torrent works better than the buggy mess you released, I'll download it in a second. But even then, I'll donate to the party providing the service. It's not a moral issue, it's strictly based on my own best interest.

    • I don't understand. Am I the only person left who really doesn't want anything for free?

      No, but plenty of people do. Understanding that other people are not you will probably make the world seem a little less crazy.

  • by WiiVault (1039946) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @10:49AM (#46676373)
    I think Facebook won the race to zero long ago. Zero long term viability, zero morality, zero innovation strategy = zero chance of being around in 20 years. They have no depth of innovation or base of loyalty beyond people waiting for the next thing and their friends to migrate. They know they are MySpace, which is why they are spending billions buying up everything in sight in the hopes to finding the innovation and depth that define long term tech company survival. But like most companies without a culture of ingenuity all they can do is buy the current cool thing and run it into the ground. Jokes about this era will be the the way people fixated on the worth of something with so little value. At least the 2000 bubble was about many new ideas being tested and failing. Facebook's value is entirely hinging on the insane concept that somebody can't MySpace them just as quickly. It will be interesting when the market wakes up to that reality.
  • by minstrelmike (1602771) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:17PM (#46676929)
    I think Facebook now actually _is_ the new AOL. And that portends a significant downfall in future profits.
    Grandma loved AOL because it was easy. Then her son created a site on Geocities. Then her grandkid's band had a MySpace site.
    Then finally it got easy enough to post baby pictures on the fBook and that site collected a boatload of users--all of whom specifically chose that site consciously and many of whom don't use it anymore. Sure, Zuckerberg can force newbies to use his site pretty much exactly the way AOL did by plastering everybody with installation CDs
    The fBook has probably got all the sticking power of popularity that AOL has. It's still around apparently, but it ain't big business and it ain't the internet and it ain't even on anybody's minds anymore.

    Facebook used to be the new AOL. Now it is turning into the current AOL. Technology, like life, moves on.
  • is get more new eyes on their ad's than people on the planet

    simple!

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