85% of the 5 billion people without Internet simply can’t afford data plans. So Facebook’s accessibility initiative Internet.org today launches its Android and web app for the developing world with free data access to a limited set of services including Facebook, Messenger, Wikipedia, and Google Search. It also provides local health, employment, weather, and women’s rights resources.
Internet.org‘s app is launching in Zambia before coming to other developing countries eventually, and is a partnership with local carrier Airtel who provides the free access in hopes that Zambians see the web’s value and buy pre-paid data through the app to explore the rest of the Internet. The Facebook Zero has been giving the developing world access to a stripped down version of Facebook since 2010. But this new Internet.org app with other services will be available as a compact, standalone Android app, baked into the Facebook for Android app, or freely available as a mobile website that the feature phones carried by the vast majority of Zambians can access.
Internet.org, Facebook’s partnership with six telecom companies, is also working ondrones and satellites to deliver Internet connection infrastructure to the 15% of people who are unconnected because they’re in remote areas with no cellular towers in range. The initiative to get more people on the Internet is sometimes criticized as a Facebook growth tactic masquerading as altruism. In this, Internet.org’s app will in fact grow Facebook by making usage free in Zambia.
But Internet.org product manager Guy Rosen defends the project’s benevolent side by reiterating Mark Zuckerberg’s white papers, telling me that Internet access can have a profound positive impact on the carrier opportunities and education for people in the developing world. “We’re here to build a program that covers more than Facebook so we can accelerate the pace at which people are connecting to the Internet which is 9% a year” says Rosen. “We really want to make that happen faster.”
A Slice Of internet For Free, The Rest At A Price
Internet.org’s app is designed to provide critical services to all Zambians for free, while also spreading awareness of why the Internet is useful and might be worth paying for. The 4.25 billion people who aren’t on the Internet but could be because traditional cellular connections are available fall into two buckets, says Rosen. Those who want the Internet but can’t afford it because data plans are too expensive. And those who don’t fully understand the web. Rosen tells me “a lot of people don’t know what the Internet is. They don’t know what it could do for their lives and livelihood. It’s a vague concept.”
Of course this perspective assumes the Internet is equivocally good for people, which may not be true for all cultures. But the app is designed for people who would want the Internet if they about it and could afford it.
To promote the Internet.org app in Zambia there will be call-outs in the Facebook app, an awareness campaign, and notifications to Airtel subscribers. The country’s residents can then visit Internet.org from their smartphone or browser-equipped feature phone for an entirely free entry point. Alternatively, they can pay for a little data to download the Internet.org app that’s just 800 kilobytes, or the Facebook For Android app where the Internet.org app is baked into a tab.
From these three identical entry points, users can use one of a selection of apps entirely for free. These include:
Facebook – for staying in touch with friends
Facebook Messenger – for direct contact with loved ones
Google Search – to find information, though clicking through to results will require a data plan
Wikipedia – to learn about anything, and all internal Wikipedia links are free to access
AccuWeather – to get updated weather information that’s critical for farmers
Airtel – to learn more about the carrier and buy data plans
eZeLibrary – to learn about Zambian government information
Facts for Life (by UNICEF) – to find heath and hygiene info including advice on pregnancy, childbirth, childhood illnesses, child development, parenting, protection, and child care
Go Zambia Jobs – to search for jobs
Kokoliko – search for jobs MAMA (Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action) – Info on maternal health for impoverished mothers
WRAPP (Women’s Rights App) – learn about women’s rights and what to do if rights have been violated
Zambia uReport (by UNICEF) – To find HIV and AIDS health info
If Google’s inclusion seems a little odd considering it has its own Internet accessibility initiative Project Loon, know that Facebook tells me content providers in the app don’t need to be official Internet.org partners.
An On-Ramp To Paid Data Plans
Airtel pays for all this free access. Rosen tells me Facebook and Internet.org don’t pay at all. Instead, the free access acts as an on-ramp to Airtel’s data plans.
If users click through to links outside of these services or use other apps, Internet.org will show users a roadblock screen that warns them they’ll be expending their data plan or need to buy one. Zambians would then go to a local store and top-up with pre-paid credit on Airtel if necessary. The model works because Airtel believes it can earn more money using the free limited access as a loss leader to drive data plan purchases. This works out well for locals, because those who can’t afford these plans get a ton resources at no cost because they’re effectively subsidized by those who can.
Facebook has been offering free access to a stripped down version of its service under the name Facebook Zero since 2010 when it launched with 50 operators in countries around the world. The program has been hailed for driving Facebook penetration in Africa.
In the last six months, though, Internet.org own deals have come to fruition. On last week’s earnings call, Zuckerberg said that “our initial partnerships in the Philippines, Paraguay, and Tanzania have helped around 3 million people connect to the Internet who had no access before.” And back in February at Mobile World Congress, he highlighted how the deals are delivering customers to its carrier partners. Discussing a Filipino Network Globe when he said “what we’re seeing in Globe users is the number of people who are using the internet — the data — was doubled, and Globe subscribers have grown by 25%, so it’s a home run.”
Zuckerberg wrote today that “We believe that every person should have access to free basic internet services – tools for health, education, jobs and basic communication.” That’s powerful stance that could do a lot of good. Still, it is a little scary that Facebook and Internet.org could decide what qualifies as a basic Internet service that should be offered free and what doesn’t. You’ll notice Twitter isn’t on the list. Facebook’s worldwide appeal makes it a valuable ally to carriers who need flagship services to point to for why people should want the Internet. So it gets to call the shots.
If the app is a success in Zambia, you can expect Internet.org will roll it out in other carriers and countries in Africa, Asia, and South America where the same data affordability problem persists. And if Facebook can be one of the first ways people experience the Internet, they won’t forget it as they become full-fledged Internet users. Seems altruism can be a business model.
Ad company RadiumOne’s board of directorsdisplayed a rare act of bravery for corporate boards, firing chief executive (and major shareholder) Gurbaksh Chahal after Chahal pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges involving a domestic violence incident with his girlfriend.
Chahal had been facing 45 felony counts related to charges he assaulted his girlfriend 117 times in a 30-minute period. In the end, the guilty pleas were for misdemeanors for battery and domestic-violence battery. He was sentenced to three years probation, a year’s attendance in a domestic-violence program and 25 hours of community service.
Chahal’s firing seems like a no-brainer, but it actually isn’t. There were some questions as to whether the board could fire its lead shareholder, and corporate boards — particularly for private companies — are notoriously hesitant to shake up management when business is doing well. Yes, Chahal was known to be tempermental, and some would even suggest hostile, but he was by all accounts a skilled leader who got results. And, as horrible as the charges were, they ended in just two misdemeanors, which don’t automatically disqualify anyone from running a company.
Yet, the board acted, replacing Chahal with current chief operating officer Bill Lonergan.
Some disclosure: Chahal was a contributor to Entrepreneur.com until he was charged with assault. We terminated our dealings with him because of the charges. Needless to say, Chahal wasn’t happy, calling the incident a “baseless controversy,” saying our decision was “completely unprofessional” and noting that other media outlets were not distancing themselves from him.
And, he ended our correspondence with this gem: “Please remember, the entrepreneur community is small. Hopefully, this serves as a learning lesson for you all to not disrespect someone again.” For the record, that was not a lesson we learned.
Personal dealings aside, RadiumOne’s board serves as a great lesson to directors who want to be true to their fiduciary duty in managing a company. To this day, many board members at private companies are hand-picked by founders and chief executives, and sprinkled in with representatives from the venture-capital firms that finance the organizations. At some startups, boards can be hands-on, but many evolving companies take a more relaxed approach, particularly when they have an entrepreneur running the enterprise who has a strong track record. As a result, they often ignore bad behavior on the part of executives, notably when those executives control a lion’s share of the stock.
Private companies aren’t alone. Public-company boards often are criticized for rubber-stamping the moves of executives. Many times, the chairman of the board is also the chief executive — a dual role that makes providing good governance more difficult.
That’s what makes RadiumOne’s move so meaningful. The board had reasons to keep Chahal. Despite valid criticism, the directors could have punted. For instance, the company could have made contributions to domestic-violence charities. What’s more, the board could have forced Chahal to perform a mea culpa tour of sorts, begging the world — and potential investors — for forgiveness.
But, in the end, the board knew that wasn’t possible. It is tough to have a company run by a man who admits he performed acts of violence against a woman. It is harder when that man is Chahal, who found a way to try to explain himself in a blog post that not only criticized law enforcement, but blamed the media and called his accuser — you know, the one he admitted to assaulting — a prostitute.
Chahal will no doubt resurface, and his track record suggests he may have more innovation ahead of him. But RadiumOne was right to separate itself from him. One hopes the gravity of his actions will help him to emerge a better man. Perhaps that is a learning lesson he needs himself.
Airlines need to be good at social media. If someone gets bad service from an airline, people are likely to mention it on social media; and if a flight is delayed, grounded fliers have a lot of spare time to gripe about it. So, how are Indonesia’s airlines handling this challenge?
A new infographic (below) looks at seven airlines operating in Indonesia to see which are flying high on social media – and to gauge which are the best at engaging with followers and responding to queries or complaints from their social channels. The seven airlines covered are Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air, AirAsia, Citilink Indonesia, Merpati, and TigerAir Mandala. The infographic maker, Brand24, then dissects how well these airlines are doing on seven social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google Plus, Instagram, and Pinterest. The data was analyzed from January 1 2013 to March 31 2014.
As a strong regional player, AirAsia tops five out of the seven social media platforms in Indonesia. Yet the national airline Garuda Indonesia has the greatest number of engaged fans in total.
This infographic is the continuation of last year’s airline infographic created by the same group of people: creative agency Joy Intermedia, social media monitoring startup Brand24, and So Trender. Compared to last year’s data, Garuda Indonesia is the biggest gainer, growing its Facebook fan-base by 700 percent while its Twitter followers increased three-fold.
“Go figure out what that World Wide Web thing is.” Ironically, that was my first newspaper assignment. I’m still trying to untangle the infinite tunneling intricacies of the Web all these years later, even today on its 25th birthday. It’s what I do for a job, which an old-school print journalist like me might not even have if not for the web.
The idea for what would become the World Wide Web was proposed 25 years ago today on a NeXT computer, on March 12, 1989. This threadbare, imageless cluster of text is what the first web landing page looked like. It was nothing more than a white background with black words and a smattering of blue “hypermedia” links to click on. No Google. No Twitter. No Facebook. They were still years away.
There were, however, all of 17 “subjects” to peruse, along with the web’s five-question inaugural FAQ, written by none other than physicist Tim Berners-Lee, the man who conceptualized the revolutionary information linking and sharing tool in a CERN office in Switzerland. (CERN is short for the European Organization for Nuclear Research.)
The newborn web wasn’t exactly riveting, but it was a start. The birth of a fascinating intangible cultural force that matured into a churning virtual mass of some 4.1 billion pages, with countless more coming online right now as you read this.
It’s an understatement to say that the web has forever changed the way we live, work, play and communicate, for better and for worse. I lean toward better.
So grab a slice of cake, send a #web25 hashtagged social media birthday card and check out these 10 cool historical facts about the web on its 25th anniversary:
1. The Father of the web wants you to fight for its freedom. Berners-Lee, 58, is celebrating the landmark anniversary of his pioneering collaborative communication protocol today by imploring its users to “defend its core principles” of freedom, non-censorship, and net neutrality.
The vocal Edward Snowden supporter is calling for people to back a universal “Internet Users Bill of Rights.” The “Web We Want” initiative sets out to establish personal user protections, including many now routinely trampled upon by the NSA. The project also aims to expand the web to the two-thirds of the world that still doesn’t have access to it.
2. The Internet’s first website went online on Aug. 6, 1991. Berners-Lee and his fellow CERN team members launched http://info.cern.ch with a landing page that only contained 153 words. It defined the World Wide Web (“W3”) as “a wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents” and contained 25 links to basic additional information about the pioneering initiative.
3. Let freedom ring. On April 30, 1993, CERN announced that its World Wide Web technology would be available to all for free. The public statement declared that the main components of the web’s structure were to remain in the public domain, giving anyone in the world freedom to use them. “CERN relinquishes all intellectual property rights to this code, both source and binary and permission is given to anyone to use, duplicate, modify and distribute it,” the historic statement read.
4. You are now free to roam freely about the Internet. Archie, which is widely considered to be the first-ever primitive search engine, went live in 1990. But a slew of others followed suit over the following decade, including web crawling giants who still chug on strong today like Yahoo, MSN, and, yes, the almighty Google.
5. Librarians surf, too. We have a New York librarian who calls herself Net-mom® to thank for the term “Surf the Internet.” Jean Armour Polly penned an article called “Surfing the INTERNET” that was published in a University of Minnesota library bulletin in 1992. Some credit Mark McCahill, the programmer behind an early web alternative called the Gopher protocol, for dreaming up the phrase.
6. An all-girl band stars in the first ever picture posted online. Berners-Lee also boasts the bragging rights to another awesome first: uploading the first photo to the web in 1992. It was a picture snapped backstage of an all-girl physics-themed rock band called Les Horribles Cernettes, which was founded in 1990 by a graphic designer at CERN. Berners-Lee scanned the photo, uploaded it to a Mac and FTPd it to the now famous info.cern.ch. The web Berners-Lee invented lives on, but the Cernettes broke up in 2012. Bummer.
7. Primitive browsers helped the web reach critical mass. NCSAMosaic, the web’s first widely used graphical browser is often credited with bringing the internet out of geeky obscurity. Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina developed the iconic black, gray and blue browser at the University of Illinois National Center for Supercomputing Applications in 1993. Before Mosaic, web users had to slog through arduous, complicated character-based interfaces, like Lynx.
Netscape Navigator, which landed on the internet a year later on Dec. 15, 1994, also played a momentous role in making the web accessible to the general public. (Remember that first newspaper assignment I scored? I tackled my article research by drifting in a bottomless, frustratingly slow-loading Netscape vortex for three weird hours. Good times.)
Mosaic may take the title for the first popular web browser, but the honor of the inaugural graphical web browser belongs to ViolaWWW. The complex “hypermedia browser,” which only worked on the X Windows System and Unix workstations, launched on March 9, 1992.
8. The internet is not the web and the web is not the internet. Don’t get them twisted like most people do, especially not if you’re in Silicon Valley. The internet was a thing long before the web and the web wouldn’t exist without the internet. The internet, the roots of which can be traced as far back to the invention of the modem in 1958, is a massive infrastructure that bridges millions of computers throughout the globe. The World Wide Web is a vast system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed on the internet.
9. Billions of people surf the web. Of the world’s 7.1 billion people, an estimated 2.4 billion people go online today. That’s 37.7 percent of the world’s total population. About six out of seven people across the globe have internet access. Approximately 70 percent of internet users surf the web every day.
10. Americans rock the web the most. Users in the U.S. account for 78.6 percent of global web usage, trailed by Australia (67.6 percent), Europe (63.2 percent), Latin America/Caribbean (42.9 percent), Middle East (40.2 percent), Asia (25.7 percent) and Africa (15.6). Surprisingly, some 24 nations remain completely offline.
Even among heavyweights like New York and Silicon Valley, few cities can match what Boston brings to the ring. Anchored by top-tier research universities, littered with thousands of the nation’s most promising undergraduate and graduate students and checkered with world-class hospitals and labs, Boston has long been a cherished destination for young entrepreneurs with game-changing ideas.
Of the people who know Boston best — the Harvard and MIT lecturers, the fiercely loyal venture capitalists and the incubator stalwarts — many say that even among its bountiful advantages, the city has one unmatchable, largely unspoken asset: Its propensity at all levels — from wildly successful founders to wide-eyed MIT students — to help others succeed in the city’s startup ecosystem.
Mashable found 15 behind-the-scenes influencers and asked them about what makes the city a nerve center for tech startups — and what their favorite spots in Boston are, in case you happen to visit soon.
1. Jeffrey Bussgang, General Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners
Boston as a growing center of technological innovation and entrepreneurship:
“The brainpower and the community in Boston is extraordinary.
“The brainpower and the community in Boston is extraordinary. The core institutions of Harvard and M.I.T. and the core hospitals give Boston the highest density of super-smart people you can possibly find,” says Bussgang, who is also a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School. “This is the most prideful startup culture you’ll find. In Los Angeles, Hollywood dominates the culture, and in New York, the media and Wall Street dominate; but in Boston, the innovation community is the dominant culture.Favorite Boston athlete: Dustin Pedroia, [second baseman of the Boston Red Sox]. He’s 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds soaking wet, but he’s incredibly hard-working and intense.
2. John Harthorne, Founder and CEO atMassChallenge
Boston’s edge: The main advantage of Boston is the talent inside of it and the value of that talent. Through the university substructure, Boston produces thousands of talented and reasonably affordable graduates who focus on revolutionary ideas — big, game-changing, global ideas that aren’t iterative improvements on existing technologies.
Favorite Boston landmark: I totally love Fenway [Park]. I had my first beer there.
3. Christina Chase, Entrepreneur-in-Residence atMassachusetts Institute of Technology
The beauty of Boston’s entrepreneurial ecosystem: Boston has individuals who compete to have an impact and facilitate acceleration in their areas, but they also want to help others who are trying to make an impact. It’s a very inclusive community where entrepreneurs make themselves accessible to younger teams so they can share knowledge and help them overcome problems.
Favorite restaurant in Boston: Craigie On Main [in Cambridge, Mass.]. They have a killer burger.
4. C.A. Webb, Executive Director at New England Venture Capital Association
Why entrepreneurs love Boston: There’s a culture shift, and a lot of the New England chill has thawed out. The permeability amazes me. There’s a spirit that if you’re new to town, ‘Let me send emails and introduce you to these five people.’ I see this happening again and again. You can land in Boston coming from a university here, coming from another part of the country or shifting from a large company, and you’re met with a welcome reception.
Favorite local attraction: Voltage Coffee & Art [in Cambridge, Mass.]. There are seven VCs and startup founders in there who I want to see and can get up to speed with. The place is coursing with energy and great people at all hours of the day.
5. Katie Rae, Managing Director at TechStars Boston
Breaking the stereotype: I hear all the time that we ‘don’t do consumer’ and instead we do B2Bcompanies. If you truly look at what’s happening, we have an incredibly diverse ecosystem of startups that deal with hardware and software, front-end tech and ecommerce — all the way to deep algorithm companies, biotech and consumer healthcare. There are very few business models that early stage companies in Boston haven’t tried. The lines are blurring.
Favorite Boston delicacy: Steamers. They’re salty, New England goodness.
6. Tim Rowe, Founder and CEO at Cambridge Innovation Center
A home for early stage companies: Massachusetts is an intense place when it comes to new ventures and investment. It has more venture capital investment and research and development spending per capita than anywhere else in the world. Boston is also walkable, which is unique. You live in a city where the key resources you need — ideas, money and talent — are all around you.
Favorite Boston movie:“Next Stop Wonderland”
7. Andy Palmer, Founder of Koa Labs
Boston as a startup hub: The recent focus on Cambridge and downtown Boston instead of Route 128 has been transformational — a fait accompli. A renaissance has happened in Cambridge. The amount of tech talent on the Red Line is overwhelming. Increasingly, entrepreneurs find that if they stay in Boston, they get more time and attention within the community. There’s less noise here and the loyalty of the tech talent is much better than anywhere else. If your city has an orientation where the talent sticks around, then you get a better product and better companies.
Favorite local bar:: Tory Row [in Cambridge, Mass.]. The food is terrific and the atmosphere is modern but not cliche. The staff are great people you love to hang out with.
8. Amir Nashat, Managing Partner at Polaris Partners
At the forefront of medical breakthroughs: The link in Boston between patients, unmet needs in tech, the innovations of the city’s universities and medical centers and investment is coming together really nicely. Big pharma is moving research into Cambridge and Boston because they want to be where the action is, and local companies are doing well and launching drugs. IPOs are starting to come, too. More so than at any other time I’ve been investing in Boston, biotech is at the top of its game.
Favorite local restaurant:: Black Sheep Restaurant [at the Kendall Hotel in Cambridge, Mass.]. I’ve always had pleasurable conversations there and their big cups of chili will stick to your ribs.
9. Gordon Jones, Managing Director at Harvard Innovation Lab
Fostering innovation: I think of the universities as ways for first-time entrepreneurs to get experience in a way that they’re resourced more deliberately and carefully than they’d be in a non-academic setting. They can be in a community with other first time entrepreneurs and ask questions and get answers from that community or other more formal programs — it’s like an estuary: a birthplace where first-time entrepreneurs can get started and grow.
Favorite Boston athlete: Bobby Orr, [former Boston Bruins defenseman]. I love the creativity of hockey and how Orr was groundbreaking. He brought an unscripted style [to the game] that married offense and his defensive position, and he fought his way to legitimize this approach to his position.
10. Jules Pieri, Cofounder and CEO of The Grommet
The Boston tech ecosystem: There’s an inherent strength in the size of the Boston startup community. It’s like Goldilocks: Not too big, and not too small. It means you can — without ridiculous amounts of work — become known and know people. There’s nobody here — not even leading investors or CEOs — who feel like they’re above reaching behind themselves and pulling someone up. It’s understood that we do that in Boston.
Favorite local getaway? Taking a ferry to one of the Boston Harbor Islands. Within seconds of hitting the water, your blood pressure goes down and the pace slows. You remember, “Yeah, Boston is kickass.”
11. Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs
Transforming into a green tech hub: Green tech tends to get overshadowed in Boston because it’s is such a hub for biotech, IT and robotics, but I don’t think there’s another place where the community of energy and clean tech professionals is so strong and giving of its time and resources. Some might say our VC scene isn’t as big as Silicon Valley’s, but you only have to look at organizations like Greentown Labs, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and theNew England Clean Energy Council to see that there’s a ton of green energy activity in Boston.
Favorite museum in Boston: The MIT Museum. It’s fascinating to walk through and the exhibits draw you in.
12. Abby Fichtner, Hacker-in-Residence at Harvard Innovation Lab and Founder of Hack Boston
Taking care of its own: We have a huge culture of ‘pay it forward’ — how can we help someone else? If you’re a student in Boston, you can reach out to any entrepreneur in Boston and say, “I’m interested in this; can you help me?” And people will go out of their way to help you. I’m not a fan of pay-to-pitch events or when people take advantage of our entrepreneurs, so a few of us got together and created Unpitch Boston — a totally free way for people to get into our tight-knit community.
Favorite local getaway: Artisan’s Asylum [in Somerville, Mass.]. It’s a humongous maker space where they have everything from classes on Raspberry Pi to woodworking classes; it’s a space where people come together to make great stuff.
13. Dave Balter, Global Head of Investments atdunnhumby and CEO at Smarterer
Success begets success: There are people and true businesses here that have shareholder value written all over them. Rue La La did well, Wayfair is killing it, Care just went public andHubSpot, Acquia and DataXu are getting close. A company that succeeds gives its young to the community. The next great talent pool is now out in the market feeding new businesses.
Favorite off-the-beaten-path local joint: Mul’s Diner [in South Boston, Mass.]. It’s breakfast straight out of a Scorsese movie. You can only pay in cash and they talk to you like it’s your last meal. You’d feel totally unsafe if there weren’t 11 cops eating at the table next to you.
14. Ken Zolot, Senior Lecturer at MIT School of Engineering
Boston as a major disruptor: I’m now working on a partnership with the Berklee College of Music that allows students to learn about entrepreneurship so they can succeed in the disrupted music industry. If you add this into the mosaic, it makes a richer fabric to support young entrepreneurs. Boston has the original yankee ingenuity; its founders built a new land from scratch in the 1620s, so shouldn’t we be doing it again?
It’s in Boston’s DNA to be a disruptor.
It’s in Boston’s DNA to be a disruptor.Favorite local museum: The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. Great museum architecture and diversity of art and performances.
15. Jeff Fagnan, Partner at Atlas Venture
A comeback decade: New England kind of disappeared following the telecom bubble burst around 2005. Now, though, groups are willing to write checks for really early stage teams who only have a prototype. For the first time in decades, we have a cohesive community. A nucleus is starting to come back into Boston and as you start to have a nucleus, more and more people come to it — we have companies coming from Israel, Canada, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Florida. It’s becoming like Ellis Island — a melting pot.
Here’s a fun gadget with which to start the week. MapMyIndia, maker of GPS gadgets and mobile apps that are strong rivals to Google Maps, has put its in-car navigation in an unusual place to come up with the brand-new Smart Mirror.
Costing INR 15,590 (US$253), it’s not really a ‘smart’ mirror in some sci-fi sense of the phrase – it’s just a fairly conventional in-car navigation gizmo with a 5-inch screen combined with an adjoining car mirror. The whole unit is designed to fit over your car’s standard rear-view mirror. MapmyIndia says this is part of an “assisted driving experience” that cuts down on distractions.
With a bit of fiddling, the screen section of MapmyIndia’s Smart Mirror doubles up as a camera screen for when you’re reversing. But you’ll need to plug in a separate reversing camera for that. In addition, the device has 2GB of storage (and an SD card slot for an extra 4GB) so you can load up songs and movies. But surely playing movies on the screen is the very opposite of ‘distraction-free driving’.
MapmyIndia says that all of its apps and products now cover 10.54 million points of interest, two million kilometers of roads across India, 6,028 cities at street level, and 600,000 villages.
Wherever you stick your GPS, best to keep your eyes on the road.