Google Plans to Invest in India Digital Future a fund of $10 billion over the next five to seven years as the technology giant seeks to acce...
Google Plans to Invest in India Digital Future a fund of $10 billion over the next five to seven years as the technology giant seeks to accelerate the adoption of digital services in one of the country's major overseas markets.
Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, presented the Google for India Digitization Fund through which the company will invest in the country.
"We will achieve this through a combination of equity investments, partnerships and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This reflects our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy," he said via videoconference at the company's annual India event.
Google Plans to Invest in India Digital Future: focus on four areas
- First, providing affordable access and information to all Indians in their own language, be it Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi or any other language.
- Second, to create new products and services that are deeply tailored to India's unique needs.
- Thirdly, empowering businesses to continue their digital transformation
- Fourth, harnessing technology and AI for the social good, in areas such as health, education and agriculture.
India is a key overseas market for Google, where a range of its products and services, including search, YouTube and Android, have made inroads with much of the entire online population. The nation of 1.3 billion people has emerged as one of the last major growth markets still untapped by the big American and Chinese brands.
More than 500 million people in India are online today and more than 450 million smartphones are actively used in the country.
"There is still work to be done to make the Internet affordable and useful for one billion Indians ... from improving voice input for all of India's languages to inspiring and supporting a whole new generation of entrepreneurs," said Pichai.
Nearly half of the 10 billion will go to a telecom owned by Asia's richest man.
Two days later, the company revealed a key detail: almost half of the money will go to a leading telecommunications operator owned by Asia's richest man.
Indeed, Google said it will invest $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms as part of a plan to "increase access for the hundreds of millions of people in India who don't have smartphones," Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted on Wednesday. Mukesh Ambani, the owner of Jio, with an estimated personal fortune of 68.6 billion USD.
Facebook, which rivals Google and Amazon in India, invested $5.7 billion in Reliance Jio Platforms, the country's leading telecom operator, in April this year to digitise 60 million family businesses in the country.
Reliance Jio Platforms, a four-year subsidiary of India's Reliance Industries, has raised more than $15.7 billion since the second half of April from 12 leading investors.
During his visit to India earlier this year, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said his organization would invest an additional $1 billion in India, bringing the company's total commitment to date to $6.5 billion.
Google's announcement today also comes at a time when India appears to be closing its doors to Chinese companies. Last month, New Delhi banned 59 applications and services developed by Chinese companies. Among those banned were ByteDance's TikTok, Alibaba Group's UC browser and Tencent's WeChat. Some industry players believe that the ban would help major US technology companies to expand their tentacles across India, as they will face less competition there.
India's small businesses go digital
Google's CEO notes that just four years ago, only a third of small businesses in India had an online presence. Today, 26 million SMEs are now detectable on Search and Maps, creating connections with more than 150 million users each month. In addition, the country's small merchants are now equipped to accept digital payments. This has enabled more small businesses to become part of the formal economy and has improved their access to credit.
The global pandemic has boosted the adoption of digital tools. Digital payments, for example, have enabled families across India to access goods and services during lockdown. For them, grocery delivery services have been invaluable.
Of course, all these advances were only possible because of a solid foundation of digital connectivity. Low-cost smartphones combined with affordable data prices and telecommunications infrastructure have opened the door to new opportunities.
"At Google, we are proud to be a partner in India's digitization process since 2004, when we opened our first offices in Hyderabad and Bangalore. At that time, our aim was to provide useful and relevant information to Indian users via search, whether they were looking for their favourite Bollywood star or their cricket scores.
"From there, we took the Internet to the villages through programs like Internet Saathi. This has helped more than 30 million women across India gain digital skills to improve their lives and communities.
"Google's efforts in India have deepened our understanding of how technology can benefit all kinds of people. Creating products for India first has helped us create better products for users around the world.
"A recent example is GPay, our fast and easy way to pay contactless or online. With the increasing adoption of BHIM-UPI, GPay makes it easier to pay for the rickshaw or send money to the family at home. India is setting the global standard on how to digitize payments, and is now helping us create a global product.
"Our reading tutor application powered by the IA Bolo, now called Read Along, is another example of technology designed specifically for Indian users. Last year, I visited students in Mumbai who were using the application to learn to read on their own. It was incredible to see their enthusiasm when they read a new word in Hindi for the first time. It was so well received that we are rolling it out to the rest of the world. Now children in 180 countries can learn to read in nine languages, with more to come.
"And our AI flood forecasting system was designed to ensure the safety of people during the monsoon in India. I will never forget the impact of the 2015 floods in Chennai on so many families. I hope this technology will bring greater peace of mind to the hundreds of millions of people affected by floods around the world every year.