Facebook opens up Internet.org for developers to attract more app makers

Facebook Monday opened up its free Internet access site, Internet.org, for developers to host more content and services on it.
“Our goal with Internet.org is to work with as many developers and entrepreneurs as possible to extend the benefits of connectivity to diverse, local communities. To do this, we’re going to offer services through Internet.org in a way that’s more transparent and inclusive,” Facebook said in a blog post Monday.

The social media giant added that since the services needed to be specially built to be simple and data efficient, Facebook has developed the initial offerings on it, but increasing choice of services is critical, and therefore the company called upon developers to join.

Facebook said the parameters for developers to come on board Internet.org would be to make data-light content for both feature and smart phones. The company has also issued technical requirements which can be viewed on the Internet.org site.

The company emphasised that neither operator nor content developer was paying for Internet.org, which was a platform to give consumers a taste of access until they become paying customers.

“This is a set of basic websites and services to introduce people to the value of the Internet,” the post said. It added that the movement has already netted in seven million people to join the Internet.

Internet.org has come under scrutiny after it was viewed as a zero-rating product which violated the concept of net neutrality in an ongoing raging debate about the interpretation of the term.

In India, Internet.org is offered non-exclusively on Reliance Communications’ network. The CEO of the Anil Ambani company’s consumer business had said the tie-up would increase the consumption on its network and possible net in more paying customers for data services.

The blog post issued by Facebook aimed at dispelling notions that Facebook was trying to hold consumers captive. The note said, had the free offering been through the Facebook platform it would limit the world of access, but Internet.org was being opened for more features and a broader set of services.
Internet.org was launched in India in February this year with around 33 content and services providers. Some have subsequently dropped out, and the company has said it is talking to these specific apps, apart from others, to address any concerns they may have and is hopeful that the latest initiative to make Internet.org more open will get them back.
The latest initiative – to open Internet.Org for developers – was aimed at addressing some of the concerns that backers of an open Internet had raised, Facebook said.
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