How Facebook uses ‘WhatsApp phones’ to tap next emerging market
By Saritha Rai
One recent afternoon in the Indian city of Pune, a 35-year-old mason named Om Prakash Gaekwad gets a crash course in technology. He watches a street-corner skit explaining the virtues of WhatsApp’s messaging service and Reliance Jio’s wireless network.
He then climbs aboard a truck to find out how to set them up. Half an hour later, he’s made up his mind: He’ll upgrade to a new phone so he can negotiate masonry rates on WhatsApp — and let his six-year-old play mobile games.
Such pitches — part tutorial, part kitsch — are boosting web adoption in what is already the world’s fastest-growing major internet market. Facebook, WhatsApp’s parent, and India’s richest man, who started Reliance Jio, are teaming up to draw hordes of customers with cheap phones, rock-bottom rates and handy messaging services.
Photo courtesy of Jan Arendtsz.