The Mobile world Congress opened yesterday. The standout event was of course the presentation of the Samsung Galaxy S7. Samsung also used the event to showcase their camera 360 and the Gear 360 VR reality headset made in conjunction with Facebook’s Oculus.
While the assembled journalists were enjoying the VR headsets, Facebook’s chairman, Mark Zuckerberg, strolled into the show in his trademark gray Polo Shirt. His presence virtually stole the thunder from the Samsung unpacked event . He used the opportunity to talk on many issues especially about the future of VR. But this was Samsung’s Mobile World Congress show, so the talk was mostly restricted to the future of the Gear 360 and Oculus partnership.
It was at the Fireside chat that Zuckerberg really let his hair down to discuss about issues surrounding Facebook and the future of the internet. As one of the world’s global leaders, anything he says carries a lot of weight. Here are some of the highlights of yesterday Mobile World Congress fireside chat.
1. On the Aquila project
According to Zuckerberg, the solar powered drone project that is suppose to provide WiFi Internet access to the world’s poorest is coming along well. The team is already building the second drone that would be able to stay airborne for at least six months. While a different team is building small scale models of the drones every week. Hopefully, full scale testing of the project would commence later this year.
2. On Free Basics
No talk like this will be complete without talk about the setback Facebook encountered in India over Free Basics. While Zuckerberg said the decision of the Indian Government was disappointing, that does not signify the end of Free Basics around the world or in India for that matter.
So even though free basics was shut down in India, it is growing else where in the world.
“That’s disappointing for the mission and a major setback, but every country is different.” He said about the decision of the government of India
3. Facebook’s Motivation
Here Zuckerberg emphatically reminded the world that Facebook is the only arm of his business making money. This is in reference to bashings Facebook is getting about all other side projects Facebook is launching. The issue is whether Facebook is in these projects to make more money. Zuckerberg wants the whole skeptical world to trust his motivation. Hear him,
“We actually don’t want to have any real business success. Not until everyone else is making money first.”
4. Next Generation Next work and Virtual reality
Sounding like a short-term prophet of the future of the Internet, Zuckerberg insist 5G network needs to happen fast because so much would depend on faster connectivity. He thinks
“It’s disappointing, this idea that 4G was about a good experience and 5G is about things. That’s important; making sure devices are connected is good, but … we’ll be sitting here in 2020 and instead of just 4 billion offline there will still be 3 billion…. I hope the folks here will focus on both priorities, bandwidth and but also making sure people finish this job and people have access.”
He spoke on how virtual reality is the future of communication. Going down memory lane, he drew a time-line about about how the Internet has evolved from text, to photos , and to videos all in a space of 15 years. Basically, according to him, people are seeking better ways to connect through the Internet. And with the advent of a 5G network, Oculus and Virtual Reality would be waiting to take full advantage.
Overall, it was a good day out for Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg at the Mobile World Congress. The atmosphere was so friendly he even joked about his daughter, the three months old Max. His thinking is definitely no Facebook or Internet for Max until she is 13 years old. But an exception can be made for Oculus because, he believes Facebook’s VR technology might be fit for children under 13 years.