Much like Facebook’s “Internet.org,” Amazon’s “Internet” app promises to improve rural users’ access to the web — while expanding Amazon’s access to rural users.
Rural India is a huge, untapped — and competitive — market
Amazon and Walmart are a tug-of-war battle to acquire Flipkart, India’s biggest e-commerce company. But while India’s 391m web-surfers are the most numerous than any country but China — they still make up less than 30% of the population.
So Amazon’s plans to increase the percentage of Indians online may help old guys watch cricket — but mostly they’ll help Amazon sell more yoga mats and toasters than Walmart.
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Internet altruism — a classic way to colonize a market
India’s huge, upwardly mobile population is a classic “emerging market” — AKA, the first stop on the global tour for big companies that have squeezed all the data and dollars out of their home markets.
But, while growing companies in any industry can barge into emerging markets to poach new customers, big tech companies (whose products are built around internet access) are among the few that can claim that they’re accomplishing a social mission by doing so.
The price of global connectivity? A lil’ conflict of interest
Let’s be clear — bringing the internet to people who don’t have it is a good thing. But when internet is distributed, monitored, and branded by a single for-profit private company, there is both a conflict of interest and a violation of net neutrality.
But hey, what’s a violation compared to global connectivity? Google space balloons to “extend connectivity to… rural areas worldwide.” Facebook’s Internet.org brings “connectivity to the portion of the world that doesn’t have [it]” — in 63 .
But where Facebook’s loud Internet.org failed, Amazon’s quiet Internet app might have a shot…