Google is almost ubiquitous with the Internet for a lot of us. They are an integral part of every thing from smartphones to websites and, of course, search. But what are Google’s plans for India, now the third largest connected population in the world?
In a conversation with Indianexpress.com, Rajan Anandan, VP and Managing Director, Sales and Operations, Google India explains how the giant of search has a three-pronged strategy for changing India’s digital landscape.
1. Connect more consumers: “The first thing that we focused on was how to make Android smartphones more affordable. We will have 70 million connected smartphones this year. Now, we are taking it to the next level. 2014 will be the year of the tablet. We think tablets will be the large form factor driver in India and the prices will get well below Rs 10,000. Smartphones will continue to get more affordable and we will see massive wave of tablet driven low cost computing. We are also doing a lot of things to make connectivity affordable. Given India’s income levels connectivity is still very expensive. We are doing lot of things to make people try the Internet. We are also trying to get more users online, especially women. We want to double the number of women using the Internet in a year.”
2. Getting more content: “If you look at India, very little of our culture and history, very little of our art is online. We have the Google Art Project for instance. Then we have a partnership with ASI to create walk through of a hundred monuments like the Taj Mahal. Its impact on education for instance will be huge. Children sitting in a small village will be able to see the Taj Mahal. We are also working on reducing the barriers with Indian keyboards and making voice recognition works with our accents. We are also working on open source fonts. You will see a lot of work being done on getting Indian content online. YouTube today has 95 per cent of Indian music catalogues online. But India has crossed the tipping point, going from an entertainment centric internet to and utilitarian Internet.”
3. Getting businesses online: “India has 47 million small businesses, but only about a lakh of them had a decent website. So we started an initiate two years to get half a million of them online. We have already launched 3,00,000 websites. The other part of getting business online is to help accelerate the creation of new businesses. As India adds more internet users, the reasons they go online will be very local reasons and not the ones for which the first hundred million came online. We have to address very specific problems that Indians have. The only way that those kind of services can be built are by local entrepreneurs. And that is why startups have become extremely important.”
What is Google’s vision for India?
“The overarching strategy is to help digitise India. It took 10 years to go from 10 million to 100 million users, three years to go from 100 to 200 million and I think we will be 300 million in two years. Until we get to 500 or 600 million, the impact of what the Internet can do in India will not reach its potential.”
Are there learnings from India going out to the rest of the world?
“We have an Emerging Markets Initiate based out of Bangalore. Getting Women Online is one such initiate and launched first in India.”
Is Google planning to be a big player in the national elections?
“Our role is to make sure that political parties and citizens leverage the power of the Internet. We view ourselves as neutral. We have a set of tools they can use to create transparency. It is up to them how they want to use it.”