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Twitter's Purchase Of ZipDial

Twitter buy Indian startup to democratize the internet to billions

23Jan

Do we take our internet access for granted in the west? It is only when your internet stops working that you realize how much you rely on it and normally. We are aware that it is there and what we can do with it but our perception of how easy it is to access is warped due to the society we live in.

In countries like Brazil and India, where infrastructure for this kind of communication is only available in certain areas, many are looking at other ways to access the information from the internet.

It is with this backdrop that Twitter has purchased ZipDial, a company trying to provide internet access without needing to use data. The reason for this is because in many of these areas wifi is difficult to acquire and many mobile internet providers charge prohibitive data charges.

ZipDial allows users to access their social media accounts or check content without accessing the internet. This is done through a collaboration of SMS, voice, web and mobile apps.

Twitter claim that in the coming years billions will get their first access of the internet and many of these will be via mobile devices. The collaboration will give more people the opportunity to do this without needing to pay extortionate data pricing.

It is not the first time that this kind of work has been undertaken, but it is the first major acquisition from one of the major internet players.

Examples of this kind of access to Twitter and the internet come from the Egyptian protests in 2010 and 2011. Here, Twitter arranged for people to be able to tweet through SMS messaging after access to the service was blocked by the government.

Access to the internet will not be at the same level as the west though, it will be an entirely different kind of service. Whilst we can stream videos and even talk to one another face-to-face, the access that ZipDial will provide will be at a far more basic level.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.

It has been shown that the average monthly usage is only 60MB in India, compared to the 1.38GB in the US. This shows a usage comparable to only 4.5% compared to America.

Whether this will be something that will make money for Twitter is yet to be seen, but through this purchase they have shown that we can democratize data to almost anybody in the world. 

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