Facebook founder back for an update at the 2015 Mobile World Congress.
When the co-founder and CEO of the world-leading social network Facebook is listed as a keynote speaker at an event, the session is bound to generate a lot of attention. The Mobile World Congress is no exception and Mark Zuckerberg’s first appearance at the show in 2014 surely attracted a massive audience. A lot of eager visitors – including parts of the Berg Insight analyst team – even had to settle for following Mr. Zuckerberg’s performance from a live video stream instead. This year, Zuckerberg’s keynote also attracted a significant number of attendees resulting in quite a bit of queuing, but there was no problem securing a seat in the grand auditorium – there were even a few vacant seats in the back corners of the room.
The 2014 keynote was focused around a number of topics such as Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and the involvement in the Internet.org initiative. The latter is a Facebook-led initiative aimed at bringing together different stakeholders to connect the two thirds of the world lacking Internet access. As such, Internet.org is designed to bring free basic access to services like Facebook in developing markets. This is in turn aimed to encourage more people to get online and buy data plans. As part of the 2014 session, Mr. Zuckerberg claimed that he would return to the MWC with an update. Zuckerberg delivered on his promise and once again took centre stage in 2015. He spoke a lot about the work that is done together with operators to connect people to the Internet and was even joined on the stage by a number of operators, including representatives from Airtel Africa, Millicom and Telenor. While most of the comments from the operators in general were positive in terms of Facebook and Internet.org, the fact that WhatsApp is cannibalising on traditional operator business spurred a bit of discussion in the panel. Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook Messenger are however part of the Internet.org suite of services. It remains to be seen if the Facebook CEO will make yet another appearance at MWC 2016 to provide more insight into the progress of connecting the rest of the world and growing the addressable user base of the social network which reached almost 1.4 billion monthly active users at the end of 2014, including 1.2 billion mobile users.