India is perhaps the latest untapped digital market. As a developing country with 130 Crore people, Pichai expects millions more to join the internet revolution in the coming years. This would provide Google with a massive chance to expand its user base in India. Google’s rival Facebook’s recent $6 billion investment in Jio platforms highlights the growing data usage by Indian users and the evolving market’s potential. Much of this could be attributed to Jio’s cheap data plans and 4G networks that have dramatically increased Indian users’ data consumption, which is expected to grow by 11 GB a month, making India one of Southeast Asia’s booming markets to tap, considering that China has long banned US technology giants from operating in the country.
Amazon has also plunged into this evolving market, in addition to Facebook and Google, by investing a total of 6 billion dollars since last year to digitize the country’s small and medium-sized businesses. With India’s rapid adoption of digital technologies, Apple has also positioned itself with Foxconn by investing 1 billion dollars in factory expansion. This demonstrates how India has been a major focus for US tech giants to expand their business, so Google’s move cannot come at a better time for the company to join the battle. On the other hand, with its payment platform, Google Pay reached 67 million monthly active users in India in 2019, Android and YouTube, which has 265 million monthly active users in India (1). India has always been a flourishing market. This, along with rising demand from Indian industries for AI and other newer technologies and the recent ban on 59 Chinese apps, has paved the way for Google’s expansion in the country (2).
The alphabet was one of the first American tech companies to see the South Asian nation’s potential for great growth. Still, it was not the one with high-profile events and acquisitions that promised multibillion-dollar investments. The new fund dubbed the Digitization Fund for Google for India will help policymakers see the benefits of welcoming Google. He said the investment would focus on (3)
- local Indian language access,
- new Indian-speaking products and services,
- helping businesses and organizations get online
- Using tech to promote social issues, including health and education.
In India and the many developing markets globally, where people have been getting online through their phones in growing numbers, Google saw the opportunity earlier than most.
Investing across Indian giants
In November 2019, Mukesh Ambani launched Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of RIL. It was then described as a platform for next-gen technology that provides affordable quality digital services. Jio Platforms has already made significant investments in various services, including broadband connectivity, smart devices, cloud, edge computing, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, smart devices, blockchain, and even augmented reality data. Notably, the main shine-in-the-spotlight moment for Jio Platforms (4) came when Facebook announced that it would invest 43574 Crores for a 9.99 percent stake. Soon, among many others, other major organizations such as Silver Lake, Vista, General Atlantic, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and L Chatterton made significant investments in this business, raising investments of over 53,000 Crores (5).
As for Google, CEO Sundar Pichai announced in July this year that the tech giant would invest 10 billion dollars in Google’s India Digitalisation Fund to speed up India’s digital economy. Pichai then said during the announcement, “Thanks to the vision of Prime Minister Modi for Digital India, the country has made huge progress in getting a billion Indians online.” In conjunction with affordable data and world-class telecom infrastructure, low-cost smartphones have paved the way for new opportunities. Google primarily hoped to use its investment in Jio to bring smartphones to more Indian users. It hopes that it will help its efforts through this partnership with Jio, which is reported to have about 400 million users (6). It can be said that this partnership and the decision of Google to invest heavily in the country’s digitalization efforts could not have come at a better time, given that India’s government is increasingly pushing for digital sovereignty and laying the groundwork for promoting more organizations and industries that are home-grown.
Funding Indian Start-ups
Google has been operating its Google for Startups Accelerator program in India since 2015. The tech giant says it has mentored over 600 start-ups and accelerated over 60, “which have raised over 700 million dollars in funding collectively.” Google selects ten start-ups that it supports each year. However, the number has doubled this year and is set to support 20 start-ups. “Our network of internal and external mentors will provide these start-ups with three months of mentorship and support,” Google said in a blog post. The ongoing support ranges from access to Google teams, project tech guidance, support associated with machine learning, among other things.
Google has been expressing the desire to provide for the Digital India movement. Including the start-ups throughout its funding session in India. With an estimated budget of 75000 Crores, the number of established ideas and projects that Google can fund is maximized, which is the sole motive for them (7). Through the Digital India movement, they expressed the inspiration of over a huge number of different opportunities across talents and Indianization that google aims to provide growth and replenish how it is brought through the country and the globe. The digital India movement also aims to grow the start-ups and companies that surely impact the various angles that could put India on the list of tech supremacy.
The Indian start-up sector surely has several optimized unit initiatives, which certainly takes the cake to grow India’s Digital movement. Google thus had taken the opportunity to learn about these start-ups and encourage them through fundings that could boost and motivate them to offer better products to the nation. Start-ups like Antwak, BharatAgri, Blacklight, Innerhour received funding for their initiatives. Under Prime Minister Modi, who has championed a Digital India initiative to expand internet access within India and attract investment in the country’s tech sector, it will also help Google ingratiate itself with the Indian government. As only half of the country’s 1.3 billion residents currently have internet access, according to eMarketer estimates (8), India is widely expected to experience the largest increase of any country in adding internet users over the coming years.
Funding Social media technology
Google also wanted to establish a platform that was left by TikTok after its ban in India. On the same day, Google invested in two short-video platforms in India, Glance, owned by Roposo (9) and the parent company of DailyHunt, VerSe Innovations, which runs the short video making app, Josh. Roposo and Josh offer local language content and are looking to cater to users of India’s Bharat. Roposo belongs to Glance, which is a subsidiary of InMobi, an Indian unicorn. Glance has raised 145 million dollars from Google as well as Mithril Capital, its current investor.
The company aims to deepen its AI capability across Glance and Roposo with the latest investment, expand its technology team, launch services on the platform, and drive expansion in world markets. For DailyHunt’s take on TikTok, Josh’s (10) short video platform, Google’s other investment came through. After the ban on TikTok in India, the news aggregator platform launched Josh in 12 local Indian languages to capture its Indian users. The total community spread on the app had also crossed 200 million.
Funding local delivery platforms
Google acquired a major minority stake in hyper-local concierge and delivery player Dunzo (11), its first direct investment in an Indian start-up that underscores how the global search giant is quietly entering the country’s investment model. In the Bengaluru-based start-up, Google led a 12 million dollar investment that saw early supporters Aspada Investments and Blume Ventures participate. The investment is part of the ‘Next Billion Users’ push by Google. It seeks to build an ecosystem in India through hyper-local high-frequency transactions and the sectors of health care, financial services, and education. Dunzo, present only in Bengaluru, runs a variety of user orders, such as picking up food from restaurants and grocery stores. Dunzo was initially launched in 2015 on WhatsApp, handles thousands of orders every day. The investment of Google in Dunzo was through Google Asia Pacific, not through Google Capital, which supported domestic start-ups, including Cuemath, an educational technology company, and Cardekho, an automotive classifieds company. Regional accelerators from Google Developers are specifically tailored to their local markets and provide access to the best of Google – its people, networks, and advanced technologies – to help start-ups build excellent products.
India is going online with Google
India is a country with over 350 million active smartphone users. The second highest internet user country in the world with 400 million. With the growing population, it is a fact that the country has been adding in more youth with active internet usage at 40 million. The nation has an average usage of 8 gigabytes per subscriber, which has grown to reach developed markets. Searches in non-metro cities grow twice as faster as searches from metro cities. The internet is digitalizing. Supply chain channels are now turning Omnichannel. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning is making it easy to improve customer experience and improve ROI. The growths of video channels on video platforms have proved how important a regulating data cycle is to improve purchase decisions(12).
In India, the online space has never been this vibrant. From driving volumes of search in the car to the rise of personal beauty-related inquiries, customers across various Bharat regions become the development engines. They are no longer searching for Signals from the subways and set their trends. The internet has become the bridge to the aspirations of Bharat. Non-metro consumers search more frequently for products related to international travel destinations, beauty, and life insurance than their metro counterparts. The lack of information or access to technology no longer restricts them. 55 to 60 percent of car-related searches, 61 percent for insurance and fund related searches. Destination interest Detection, destination Activities, and international activities, Travel is much greater than that, In non-metros, instead of Tier 1 cities.
India’s online video audience is expected to grow by 2020 to 500 million. As watch time on mobile phones increases rapidly, there is increasing interest in audio-visual content across verticals. About one-third of all online video searches relate to entertainment. Other categories have shown 1.5 times – 3 times growth in the last two years, such as lifestyle, education, and business. Online video reshapes the way customers collect data and make purchasing choices. With 80 percent of car buyers using it as a research destination, it plays a major role in the car-buying path for the customer to purchase. More than 55 percent of shoppers say they used online videos while shopping in the store.