CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg speaks during his keynote conference at the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. Credit: Getty images
The Mobile World Congress 2014 began Monday morning in Barcelona featuring keynote speaker Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. Zuckerberg’s interview has been the highlight of the conference thus far as Facebook took on WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion last week. Zuckerberg believes everyone in the world should be able to use Facebook – and he wants mobile carriers to provide it.
On day one of MWC, Zuckerberg presented his pitch for Internet.org – a global partnership that brings the Internet to developing countries. As Zuckerberg and his team tried to figure out what problem in the world they wanted to fix next, they realized their mission wasn’t to connect one-seventh of the world, it was to connect the whole world, he said. That’s when they got the vision to create a dial tone for the Internet that includes a basic service similar to dialing 911 in the U.S.
“One thing that I think it’s easy to take for granted,” Zuckerberg said, “is that most people in the world don’t have access to the Internet. It’s about 2.7 billion people now and it’s actually growing a lot slower than you’d imagine.”
Zuckerberg wants to partner with mobile carriers to provide Internet service through WhatsApp because it is the most engaging app that exists on a mobile phone, he said. According to Zuckerberg, “70 percent of its users use it everyday and there are very few services that can reach that level.”
The company is currently working on creating an onramp to the Internet, something accessible by phone without having a phone plan.
Zuckerberg started in the Philippines working with Globe – the second largest telco in the Philippines. The country recently surveyed as the poorest and slowest mobile network. However, the number of people there using Internet data has nearly doubled in the past year after they received free basic service. These free services included Facebook and Messenger.
“Once we can make a profitable model that works for Globe and other folks that we’re working with, we think it’ll be a pretty easy problem to solve to add other services like weather or food prices or Wikipedia,” Zuckerberg said.
The goal is to show that the basic model can work for a full year first, then the team will begin to create a more systematic model.
"I hope we can prove that the model works, and then get to the place to work with a larger number of carrier partners within the next two or three years," Zuckerberg said.