From its famous search engine to the Android mobile operating system, Google gives a lot of its technology away for free. Now, it's taking the free for all a step further by developing a plan to end data charges for Android users in developing countries.
The practice of waiving data charges is called a "zero rating." It's a policy adopted by some big tech companies to make accessing their services free for the user.
Accessing the Internet and apps can be difficult in developing countries because data rates can be as much as seven times higher than they are in the U.S. In order to help developers reach customers in emerging areas, Google would act as a go-between with data providers and app makers in order to allow users to download and use apps without paying for data. Google isn't the first big company to try out zero-rating. Wikipedia has already created Wikipedia Zero, a version of its site that users can access without data.
"When someone is downloading or using, say, the Ola Cabs app, Google can recognise that data traffic through Android and pay the carrier for the data charge associated with it," The Information's Amir Efrati writes. "The third-party developer would then be expected to pay some or all of the charge."
Giving its stuff away for free is nothing new for Google. In addition to its search engine and Android, Google has made some books free and easily accessible through Google Books. It also gives users free access to Gmail, Google Docs and 15 GB of free storage on Google Drive. But, if it's giving all of that stuff away for free, how is Google making money?