Today on Facebook’s blockbuster Q3 earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg said Internet.org has helped 40 million people get online. Indeed, 0.5% percent of the world’s population is now connected to the internet thanks to Facebook’s accessibility initiatives.
The company even said Internet.org contributed to monthly user growth, which accelerated from 3.63 percent to 4.67 percent growth since last quarter to hit 1.79 billion.
Facebook is driving connectivity via its carrier-subsidized Free Basics app and Express Wifi hubs. Eventually Facebook wants to use its Aquila solar-powered drones, satellites and other advanced technology to bring access to remote areas. The company is both targeting users who can’t afford data plans available in their location, as well as those with no access where they live.
That 40 million user figure is up from 3 million in July 2014, 15 million a year ago and 25 million in May, representing 166 percent growth year over year. Considering Internet.org’s Free Basics app being banned in India, one of its biggest potential markets, that’s strong growth.
Oh, and SpaceX’s rocket that exploded on the landing pad also blew up Internet.org’s first satellite that was meant to bring connectivity to Africa.
If Facebook can continue making progress with Internet.org, it can simultaneously accomplish its mission of bringing the world together via the web while also getting more people online who will likely become ad-viewing Facebook users.