Sundar Pichai explains why Google is focusing hard on India

Today is a big day for Google for two reasons. Firstly, it's the company's 18th birthday, so it can now legally vote and smoke. Secondly, and possibly more importantly, it just held a massive event in India where it unveiled a bunch of new products relevant to the country including YouTube Go, new versions of Chrome and the Play Store, the Google Station public Wi-Fi initiative, Google Assistant in Hindi, and more.

India is obviously a major opportunity for Google. There are over a billion people in the country, and more than 800 million of them live in rural areas with limited access to the internet — less than a third of the population is online at all. But you don't have to be Indian, or even especially interested in Google's business fortunes, to care about the company's announcements today. As CEO Sundar Pichai — who is himself Indian — lays out in an op-ed piece in The Economic Times, India is important to Google as a bellwether for the future of the internet itself, and what happens there is likely to spread elsewhere.


"Over the last year, we have noticed something important about improving our products in India," Pichai writes. "It makes them better for everyone around the world. In an increasingly mobile-first world, India gives us early insights into the future of the Internet."

"Moreover, we learned the issues Indians may have with connectivity, and data constraints can be universal. We dreamed up Maps Offline for India, but people in the United States and Europe are finding it just as useful. Simply put, solving for India is inspiring new Google innovations."

In countries like India, the smartphone is the dominant method of accessing the internet. In that sense, countries like the US are actually behind; mobile engagement is increasing, of course, but certain usage patterns are beholden to the desktop paradigm. Products like the offline version of Google Maps, as well as many of today's announcements, come out of a development environment where the phone comes first because there isn't another option — products where you can't rely on a constant high-speed internet connection, for example.

That's why you can expect to see more apps and features from Google and other companies developed outside the US, even if they ultimately prove to be just as useful inside. As Pichai notes, "often the best innovations come from the most surprising places."

Comments

Yes dear god they finally saw the light; I can’t count how many times I’ve cursed them because my reminder didn’t get saved in google now or a simple search didn’t come through because of lack of a 3g connection. They really needed to get out of their high-end $750 phones, LTE blanketed shells.

"India is obviously a major opportunity for Google. There are over a billion people in the country, and more than 800,000 of them live in rural areas with limited access to the internet"

Only 800,000 out of 1,250,000,000 people in India live in rural areas?

Perhaps "…with limited access".

Seems like they have corrected the typo.

Is the obvious reason is because he is Indian, and he wants to help his homeland? Larry Page or Sergey Brin wouldn’t have made the same decision. They might have helped Africa first.

Maybe, but I don’t see anything wrong with that.
The fact that he answers to a board might mean other reasons though
1. India is a country, while Africa is a continent – It is easier to focus efforts in a country where all the regulations are same throughout the region.
2. The population of India means that any future benefit of growing the internet using population is going to be significant for Google.

LOL what? India = one country (with nearly 20% of human race, I might add). Smaller land mass, fastest growing major economy, in a fervent push to get its people online.
And you compare that with the continent of africa?

Hey it could still be a factor even if its makes sense. If I were invested in Google I’d like that from my CEO.

Africa has lesser business opportunity tho

India is the fastest growing trillion dollar economy today and China is looking bad. Plus China hates Google do India is the best alternative they have

Because he’s a globalist.

what’s wrong with that?

CEO Sundar Pichai – Who is himself Indian

He is American citizen according to Wikipedia. The better way to put it is Indian origin

"Google is now 18 so they can legally smoke" – What have they been smoking lately? But give it to Pichai he has proved to be a worthy leader steering the company in the right direction. That direction is India it appears but knowing Google and a bit of Pichai I am sure its not because Pichai comes from India. You need to visit India to see what is happening there. They are way way bigger adopters of mobile phones, increasingly buyers of smart phones and adopting mobile devices in their day to day work – even some of the governments. That is a big change. And when there is a change you start getting a pool of resources built up. Folks old enough to remember Japanese electronic revolution in 70s/80s.

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