Google’s Big Plans for India
As Google turns 18 years it held its second Google for India, here in Delhi. The tech corporation is looking to further capture the next cohort of Indians to come online for the very first time, and all the apps and service feature enhancements announced at the event will be about customizing for this huge untapped market which in turn can be leveraged with Google advertisers.
Rajan Anandan, VP for India and South East Asia in his address said, “There’s a possibility to get 650 million Indians online by 2020. But slow network, language barriers, affordability of data and devices are all challenges to be resolved first. We must make the internet useful for all of India, not just some. Affordable data will drive the next revolution.”
“The first time Indian Internet users, likely to exceed 400 million by 2020, will want to use the internet in their own local language and this demand will represent a majority of Indians.
As Caesar Sengupta, Google VP for Next Billion Users says, “Every second, three Indians come online”.
This massive appetite for internet consumption is also reflected in the use of languages other than English here in India. “We have seen a ten-fold growth of local languages use on Google services. The use of Hindi has grown 5 times faster compared to English, the Hindi keyboard is used overwhelmingly.” states Anandan. “However only .1% of webpages are non-English, and we are partnering with publishers, government agencies and other stakeholders and committed to bridging the language divide”, he further said.
And the tech giant is rushing to cater to these needs. “Google Translate now has 100 languages and 12 are languages from India such as Hindi, Bengali, Marathi and Tamil”, said John Giannandrea (in short, JG), Senior VP of Engineering for Google Search.
While expert developers of Indic language mobile tech believe that Google has the best translation skills of any comparable product because of their comprehensive knowledge graphs, the company still thinks as an entity foreign to India and native linguistic nuances. “There are Indians who wish to use the internet for the first time, in their own vernacular because they are not familiar with the English language. They see the internet very differently to an Indian who knows to use internet, knows English. For these users the experience is very different. How would a first time user know they are supposed to type a word in English and then the translation for it will be suggested on Google Allo, or to look up meanings in Tab To Search?” This is a problem Google is trying to tackle with the help of Indian language experts and tech developers.
Other projects highlighted by Rajan Anandan for India
“India has one of the highest gender divides when it comes to using internet, with only 1 woman for every 9 men using the internet in rural parts of India.”
“To solve this issue we have partnered with TATA Trusts to help women in rural areas use the internet to empower their lives. It’s a program that encourages women, known as the ‘Internet Saathis’, to help other women navigate their way around the internet for the first time. This project is now active in 25,000 villages across 10 states and have already trained 1 million women.”
“Over the last three years, India has grown to be the third biggest startup ecosystem in the world. When we partnered with NASSCOM for the 10,000 startups initiative there were only about 100 internet startups, now there are over 1000 internet startups.”
We are very proud of Google Launchpad Accelerator Program where we mentor mid to late stage Indian startups, and also of Google Capital, a growth equity investment fund which is used to invest in late stage startups. India in fact, is the first country outside the US to have an office open for Google Capital. We also have Google Ventures (GV) for investing in early stage startups.”
“Google will also work to further develop skills of two million mobile tech developers. Although India is a mobile first economy, the country has only about 25% developers able to build mobile apps.
To this end Google is funding the installation of Google Developers Codelabs at major State Technical Universities in India such as Manipal University.
“120,000 students have already enrolled in Android Fundamentals course. By 2017, 200,000 engineering students will be learning how to build Android apps.”
The company is working very hard and spending millions as can be witnessed by the gala event showcasing the services rolled with India as their priority market. In fact the products built for India are now being rolled out in other regions. As Caesar says, “there are features we built for India like offline Google map availability which can even be useful in other regions like North America and Europe.” This is important because Google is not an Indian company. It’s a sign of tides changing and the increasing economic importance India holds in global markets.
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