“As we and others have noted, there’s a real risk that the few websites that Facebook and its partners select for Internet.org (including, of course, Facebook itself) could end up becoming a ghetto for poor users instead of a stepping stone to the larger Internet.” – EFF.org
The article by Jeremy Gillula and Jeremy Malcolm has highlighted the practical difference in the crust and the core of Internet.org. It is an appreciable piece of information that shows why Internet.org Is Not Neutral, Not Secure, and Not the Internet. They have mentioned the possibility of this program turning into a ghetto for the users instead of a doorway to rich information.
Considering ‘ghetto’ as substandard part of a community, Internet.org has ample reasons to become one. As a website owner, Internet.org is not a wide-open platform to participate in. It requires some considerably ‘high-end’ policies to agree with before offering your services to the free community. These policies infuriate the quality standards of content and security in a big way.
But ghetto has another meaning as a ‘walled area of the city’. Internet.org has the potential of being a walled area of the internet. And its consequences can restrict the users to certain businesses (that agree with terms and conditions of the program) and hence, it may lead to business monopoly.
How Internet.org Can Cause Business Monopoly
According to the current statistics, less than 3 billion people have access to internet of the total world’s population that exceeds 7 billion. With less than half of the world on it, the internet is already considered as the strongest medium of marketing for the businesses.
The aim of Internet.org is to make internet accessible to two-third of the population and with those figures, the internet will certainly be the undisputed king of marketing. To add more to the strength, free things are easiest way to lure the users.
Surfing from a website on the free zone to a website on paid zone will probably show a warning message about the possible charges. Most users are not likely to proceed with it. So, the business that agrees with the policies of Internet.org will certainly have a huge advantage over those not agreeing with the policies. A business, not going with the program, will fall short on reach by more than 1.5 billion people (read as possible customers). Thus, the business on board with Internet.org will have a larger say in the market.
Policies of this program, however, appear to be favoring ‘information providers’ and it is not clearly claiming to be a ‘marketing friendly stuff’. But, the marketing intellects know how make use of each bit shared over the internet.
Confusion for Businesses
Which business would like to miss out on the opportunity to earn the monopoly in the market? None or maybe some counted ones. But the problem here is what if your competitors also join in the program. Now, all the competitors have equal opportunities and better package of marketing, services, and quality wins the race. Fair enough? Perhaps, not fair enough.
In this fight to reach the maximum number of customers (or internet users), the businesses will have to compromise on the content quality of the website and downgrade the security to some extent. As a business, this invites risk to your customer friendly approach. Businesses are now standing between Scylla and Charybdis as they need to choose one between the quality and vast reach.
Most important players in this war could be internet service providers and mobile operators. Future of net neutrality will affect their stand here. If they are able to make good of this opportunity, things are going to be very bright and prosperous for them in the long run.
But the biggest gainer of this program is going to be Facebook, the mind behind Internet.org. With its strategies, Facebook has managed to dethrone the giant Google in many regions. It commands mass reach and backing of both businesses and customers. With its Internet.org program, it is likely to further expand its popularity and domination in the internet arena. Another reason that supports the chances of Internet.org succeeding is that people love free gifts. A strategy for the business on how they need to go with Internet.org is tough to predict but, for Facebook, it looks like it has got a fine way to monopoly.