NEW DELHI, NNA - Tech giant Google Inc. will be investing $10 billion in India over the next five to seven years to drive its digital strategy as the contest for the world's second largest online market heats up.
On Monday, the company unveiled the “Google for India Digitization Fund” which will make the major investments in the country.
“We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said in a statement.
The investments will focus on four key areas.
First, the search giant will enable affordable access and information for every Indian in their own mother tongue, be it Hindi, Punjabi or Tamil. Google will also create new products and services that are deeply relevant to India’s unique needs.
Third, it wants to empower businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation. The company said the digitization of small businesses has produced some of the most exciting success stories in India.
“Just four years ago, only one-third of all small businesses in India had an online presence. Today, 26 million small and medium businesses are now discoverable on Search and Maps, driving connections with more than 150 million users every month,” said its statement.
The fourth area is leveraging technology and artificial intelligence (AI) for social good, in areas like health, education and agriculture.
India is a top overseas market for the U.S. company. Its range of popular products and services such as Search, YouTube and Android are widely used in the country.
The company noted that the global pandemic has supercharged the widespread adoption of digital tools. Digital payments, for example, have enabled families across India to obtain goods and services during lockdowns.
The huge Google investments come at a time when rival tech giants Facebook and Amazon have recently made inroads into India.
However, the government wants to ensure that foreign players do not wield dominance over online data.
A panel of experts appointed by the government has recommended that a data regulator be set up to oversee the sharing, monetization and privacy of information collected online.
According to a Bloomberg article Monday, the panel's report named U.S. giants Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google as the beneficiaries of first-mover advantages, resulting in "many new entrants and startups being squeezed and faced with significant entry barriers.”
A new regulator would minimize this while helping to spur local innovation, economic growth and social wellbeing, said the panel.