Free Facebook for emerging world users?
Mark Zuckerberg needs the rest of the world more than it needs him, despite the high-minded tone of the companies creating Internet.org.
- The Google Free Zone, a project that provides free data access to top-level Google content on low-end feature phones, was extended to India through a partnership with Bharti Airtel in June. The service offers first-time consumers unlimited data for email and searches, but any click on a link brings up an invitation to purchase a data plan. Google had previously tested the offer in Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Airtel, headquartered in New Delhi, has 275 million subscribers in 20 countries.
- Twitter and Vodafone (VOD) launched a similar joint venture in India last month. The program has a three-month limit, making it more a free trial than a service.
- Facebook has Facebook Zero, a text-only version of the site designed for low-end feature phones that can be accessed free of data charges from participating carriers.
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The company is scrambling to protect its equities arm, which could face declining volume and revenue as competitors close the gap.
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