Google Offers Free Mobile Internet Access to Emerging Markets
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has announced that it has teamed up with Globe Telecom to bring free Internet access to consumers in emerging markets, starting with the Philippines.
According to Reuters, the new service is called Free Zone and will enable users to surf the Web on basic mobile phones. They will also gain access to Gmail and Google+.
There is a catch, however. Users will not be allowed to simply type a website into the search box. If they do, they will be redirected to a page asking them to sign up for full Internet access. This is the hidden downside to Google's "free" service. In order to get users to pay for Internet access, the search engine giant will provide consumers with a simple tease.
Google.com is the one and only website that users can surf for free. From there, users may access any site that appears in the search results. If they try to enter a different address or click on a link within another page, however, they will be taken to the signup page.
Google and Globe are not the first companies that have attempted to lure new customers with a couple of freebies. According to Reuters, Smart Communications (Globe's rival) implemented a similar program last year. Customers who have signed up for the program tend to spend 150 percent more than other subscribers.
If Globe can achieve a similar level of success, this venture would prove to be a positive investment. Google, on the other hand, simply wants more people to use the Internet.
AbdelKarim Mardini, product manager for Google, told Reuters that Free Zone is "aimed at the next billion users of the Internet, many of whom will be in emerging markets and encounter the Internet first on a mobile phone, without ever owning a PC."
The majority of Google's profits come from ad revenue. By encouraging additional consumers to come aboard (and by directing those consumers to Google's sites and services), the company could greatly expand its revenue growth.
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