Google’s Game Plan in India
Google’s $10 Billion Initiative
Yesterday, Google (GOOGL) unveiled a plan to invest $10 billion in India’s digital economy over the next five to seven years. The program, called the Google for India Digitization Fund, will focus on four key areas:
For starters, the initiative will give people in India more access to information in their preferred languages. These languages include Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, and others. Google has already developed voice command capabilities for several Indian languages.
Google also wants to help Indian businesses both large and small integrate technology into their operations. The company has also made plans to use AI and other technology to improve healthcare, education, and agriculture in India.
Lastly, Google plans to build products and services that will cater to India’s unique needs. Google has already created versions of apps that use less data and allow videos to be downloaded and watched later for people who have limited access to wifi. Google also added motorcycle and scooter directions on Google maps, since these transportation methods are popular in India. The company plans to continue developing technology that will be specific to Indian people’s needs.
Other Tech Companies Race to Invest in India
About half of India’s 1.3 billion people are not yet online, but that is rapidly changing. Google is not alone in trying to gain a foothold in the Indian market at this important moment. Tech companies around the world are pouring investments into the country’s digital economy.
Facebook (FB) recently invested $5.7 billion in Reliance Jio Platforms, India’s largest telecom operator. With capital from Facebook and other high-profile international investors, Reliance Jio is helping digitize 60 million Indian small businesses. Amazon (AMZN) has also invested a total of $5.5 billion in India, much of which is going toward digitizing local businesses.
Tensions With China
Chinese tech companies have also been angling to be a part of India’s digitization. However, last month, the Indian government banned 59 apps and services created by Chinese companies. These included TikTok, by ByteDance, Alibaba’s (BABA) UC Browser, and WeChat, developed by Tencent (TCEHY).
This means that American tech companies in India will face less competition from Chinese companies. However, American tech companies have largely been banned from China. For example, Google recently had to cancel plans to offer a new cloud service in the country. Because China is largely unavailable to Google and other American tech giants, they are even more eager to gain ground in India.
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