What good can come out of owning a latest shiny car if one doesn’t know how to drive? You can talk endlessly about its qualities; take selfies with it but perhaps too proud to ask for a driving course? And then in times of need you will be dependent on someone else to drive it for you.
Now imagine if that car could teach you to drive when you get behind the wheel for more than taking a selfie. How good learning experience would be when you drive that fancy ride of yours out on the road on your own by a trusted instructor right there embedded in your car, enabling you to make your car more than a showpiece.
Most of us have been using Internet for so long that everything new in it comes to us naturally specially since evolution of smartphones. Because we know it, we simply assume every other person we see dancing their thumbs and have their gaze glued down on their mobile screens know every thing of internet too. My perspective changed recently after watching my uncle’s 8 & 11 year old granddaughters installing Whatsapp and setting him an account on his iPhone. I realized how unfriendly many of these internet based innovations can be, even to some of long time smartphone owners who have been using these as regular calling and texting machines.
I thought it must be one of very few occurrences until I come across a recent report that said “For every internet user, there are two people who don’t use it at all.” That makes around 60% people of entire world’s population not on Internet. That’s a lot of people and tech companies want them online.
Mobile phones are bringing more users to Internet than the desktop computers ever did. Availability of internet on mobile phones is nothing new and it has been only improving alongside smartphones. It is quite possible that the today’s mobile phone users not on Internet have it available on their handsets, waiting to be used. Just like owning a car but not actually using it to its full potential.
Race to Connect Next Billion
Tech companies want that big left over piece of pie. They have been trying to seduce people toward Internet using every possible mean they can think of. Nokia pushed hard with their Asha series in not so distant past. Facebook’s brilliant attempt ‘Free Basics’ is gathering dust due to not being net neutral. Google’s Project Loon to bring next Billion people online is very much disappeared like balloons in the space and their Android One are mostly famous among users who already knew why they should have Android One as their budget smartphone.
Technology giants are pushing devices and services literally everyday that can’t be functional without internet, yet those Internet-less people are not lining up for these really useful innovations. Clearly something is missing.
Pakistan to the Rescue
And then comes a Pakistan based start-up ClubInternet in the scene from Islamabad. Under supervision of Entrepreneur Hassan Baig, the team looked past the technical infrastructure and marketing mambo jumbo tech giants is focusing on. Their theory, research studies and trials led to a very logical conclusion that the missing piece here is hidden in centuries old “What”, “How” and “Why” questions.
What is Internet, what to do with it, how to do it and most importantly, why doing it anyway?
These what, why and how questions can be very self-manipulative. Why to own car when we have public transport, why should I learn to drive when I can have a driver, or my personal most-used ‘why should I learn to cook when we have many restaurants’. Now sometimes these reasoning can be a mask to safe ourselves the embarrassment of asking about something everyone else is doing effortlessly – the fear of ‘what others will say.’
Solution was simple, a little encouragement, giving a purpose and an embarrassment-free one on one internet training.
Like our imaginative car-cum-driving instructor, ClubInternet turn Internet browser into a personal internet trainer that can teach new users how to use Internet through audiovisual aids in language of their choice. This free, simple and one-on-one learning experience develops a basic ‘mental model’ of how Internet behaves and how a user should react so they will recognize similarities and able to use more than just one website.
Think of it as a driving simulator that your futuristic smart car runs to get you familiarized with the controls before moving on to real world driving.
This discovery ripples through tech world and CNN had an interview with Hassan Baig followed by attentions from tech enthusiastic including the likes of TechCrunch and TechinAsia. FireFox approached ClubInternet and within Pakistan their products won prizes at Pakistan Mobile Apps Competition and at the National Mobile Apps Competition (NMAC).
We have met this system, the Internet Tutor (now known as Aasan Internet) in our Telenor smartphone reviews, Telenor has been delivering this personal internet tutor with their budget smartphones.
Experienced internet users know that Internet is more than a browser especially when it comes to smartphones. Simple internet browser cannot cover all the goodies Internet has to offer. Keeping this in mind ClubInternet is developing smart tutors for various useful online services and apps such as Skype and Whatsapp.
Reaching out to those ‘unconnected’ smartphone users however is still a challenge. One solution ClubInternet applied is have their app preinstalled in smartphones Pakistani brands are producing, Telenor being an example.
I would like to see ClubInternet produce contents other than what is in their app. I want to see them produce videos to connect with possible users in villages and the elders. Those videos should available on their website, their social networking channels and within the handsets produced by Pakistani brands.
Help Pakistan Shine!
Connecting the next Billion is a worldwide campaign and with ClubInternet’s efforts Pakistan have a golden opportunity to be a prominent name in this revolutionary event. To see it through, brands and telcos in Pakistan should benefit from the ground work and include tips and useful side of Internet in their commercials.
I feel we, as nation have to share this burden too and spread the words to new smartphone users who have yet to taste the internet.
Complete interview on CNN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuEa5vmvtqA
You can find their official website at http://clubinternet.co/ and for locate their Android apps https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=ClubInternet