Google to invest $10B in India’s adoption of digital services
India is perhaps the last major growth market for digital service companies. With a population of more than 1.3 billion people and a massive potential for capturing that audience, companies around the world are vying for a share.
On Monday, Google announced that it intends to invest $10 billion in India to help accelerate the country’s adoption of digital services. It will do so over the course of five to seven years. The move is Google’s latest show of support for digitalization in India and shows its commitment to the developing market.
The new funding will stem from Google’s India Digitization Fund. Through it, the search giant will make a variety of investments in the country.
India-born CEO Sundar Pichai said in a video conference, “We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy.”
Google will focus its Indian investments in four key areas. The primary segment aims to increase affordable access to information for every Indian in their own language. That could be Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, or any other dialect.
Secondly, Google will focus on developing new products and services that address India’s unique needs. Currently, the nation has about 500 million people online and there are more than 450 million smartphones being used. That’s less than half of India’s total population.
The Big Tech firm also plans to work with local businesses to assist them with their digital transformation.
Finally, Google will work to use technologies like AI for social good. This will take place across sectors like healthcare, education, and agriculture.
“There’s still more work to do in order to make the internet affordable and useful for a billion Indians…from improving voice input and computing for all of India’s languages, to inspiring and supporting a whole new generation of entrepreneurs,” says Pichai.
India is a key market for Google. Several of its services, including Search, YouTube, and Android have caught on now that a significant portion of the population is online. Still, there is plenty of room for growth.
Notably, Google’s announcement of a major investment occurs at a time when India is slowly cutting off Chinese tech firms. Last month, it banned 59 apps developed by Chinese companies. Among them are ByteDance’s TikTok, Alibaba’s UC Browser, and Tencent’s WeChat.
The recent bans on Chinese tech could help American companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon gain a larger foothold in India. With less competition, Big Tech is going all-in on the Indian market.
Of course, Google isn’t new to investing in India. Since landing in the market in 2004, Google has established a variety of programs to extend its reach in the country. One of its main strategies is partnering with local smartphone vendors to make and sell low-cost devices.
It has also backed a number of Indian startups.
In May, reports emerged that Google was in talks with Vodafone Idea, the country’s second-largest telecom provider, to purchase a five percent stake.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how Google’s new $10 billion investment pans out. The money will go a long way towards helping India go digital while allowing Google to simultaneously stake a claim in the massive market.
Originally published at https://www.theburnin.com on July 13, 2020.