It seems like everyone is friends again when it comes to connecting the world. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg was asked by Wired’s Jessi Hempel if the company’s Internet.org initiative would ever consider partnering with Google’s Project Loon and his response was reassuring.
Sure. When we launched the Internet.org app in Zambia with our partner there…one of the apps we launched with was Google Search because search is an important product and piece of functionality that people around the world would want. I would love to do more with them, and Sundar [Pichai, Google SVP] talked about their apps being more in partnership with Internet.org.
This is interesting because earlier today, Google’s Sundar Pichai was asked the same question about whether they would team up with Facebook and replied that they would be happy to partner once the right tools were in place.
Zuckerberg appeared to be on the charm offensive throughout his entire keynote and panel discussion, constantly reiterating his belief that the real leaders in the race to connect the world are the operators (Internet.org’s partners incidentally) –
The folks here part of the industry are leading the charge to connect everyone in the world and have been for decades. They have a long legacy and history in the sense of mission in the industry, that’s why all these folks are doing all the work to lay the fiber and build all the towers to get this done.
This is a stark change from last year’s keynote at Mobile World Congress where the CEO plugged Internet.org to the room and asked five of the world’s biggest carriers to sign up and offer their wireless services for free. At the time Facebook had just acquired Whatsapp for $19 billion so the feedback was that carriers were unimpressed at the gesture that they should foot the bill for infrastructure with no guarantee of a return.
Facebook has since partnered with some big names across the globe like GSMA, Airtel Africa and Millicom and has since launched the Internet.org initiative in six countries (four African, Columbia and India) and the CEO was joined on stage by some of those partners, something he insisted was more important than any news on the initiatives update.
While the lack of any Facebook-related news was glaring, it was also apparent that Zuckerberg is on a mission to have more partners come on-board with the Internet.org project, and this time he is approaching things a little differently.