Google Markets Potential Internet Users Everywhere

In the US, our status as a highly mobile and highly connected country didn’t happen overnight. We were early adopters of computers when they first became practical for in-home use. We had Commodore 64s, Apple’s, Dell Computers, and a variety of other gadgets early on that were pretty expensive. Now we hold computers in one hand and communicate to the world with them. Our love of tech grew alongside the internet, and we’ve been able to watch it spread from the beginning.

If you look back 20 years, the technology in this country was vastly different and exponentially less powerful. By virtue of our position in the world and our degree of innovation, we’ve been able to grow with technology; we don’t really adopt it. But for emerging and developing countries around the world, the way they get access to technology, especially the internet, is vastly different from us. It shows up, and if it’s liked, people there learn how to use it and adopt it.

Google Targets Developing and Emerging Economies with New Service

The media is reporting this morning that Google has released a new service for mobile users. According to Aaron Souppouris for The Verge, Google has introduced a new service called “Google Free Zone” which “will facilitate the use of Gmail, Google+, and Google Search via a special domain, g.co/freezome. The original location for launch of the service was in the Philippines. Not exactly the place one would think Google to be heavily involved in.

But that’s where this new strategy of Google’s shows itself. In my latest blog post for CEM, I wrote about cell phone maker RIM. In the post, I discussed the huge opportunity that RIM has to recover from its losses in emerging and developing markets.

Looks like Google is hoping to plow right into the profitable emerging and developing markets, and they aren’t waiting around to do it. Offering free services is a great way to bring potential customers into the fold of your brand. Heck, it’s the way Google and Facebook make their money. They provide a free service and only because of the secondary ads do they generate revenue.

Why Offer Free Internet?

Google makes the majority of its money from online advertising. How can it make more money? It can make more money when more people look at advertising. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But the problem is a majority of the people in more developed countries have already been reached or are already users of the internet.

What Google wants to do with Google Free Zone is to bring as many mobile users onto the internet as it can. Some internet use and interaction with Google’s ads is better than no interaction. Jeremy Wagstaff with Reuters quotes Abdel Karim Mardini, a product manager for Google, who states, “[Google Free Zone] is aimed at the next billion users of the internet…[who will] encounter the internet first on a mobile phone without ever owning a PC.” Capturing the “next billion” with a free service that hooks them into the Google brand is an excellent strategy. Pretty soon it’s going to be popping up in emerging markets all over the world.

“Free” as a Strategy

Even if you work with a variety of clients, I think it’s safe to say that not many of them have the resources to provide free access to the web for an entire country like Google does. That’s ok though. As the reach of the internet increases and as the ease of conducting global commerce improves, there are opportunities out there. The hardest part is getting people aware of a product or a service. Providing something free that is worth using is a great way to pull people into a company’s sphere of influence. If the service is good enough, many people who utilize it will eventually be customers. Google is betting on it.

What do you think about the Google Free Zone?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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