Google CEO Sundar Pichai has announced that the tech giant will invest up to $10 billion in India over the next five to seven years. The news came as part of Google for India’s annual event. The biggest headline was the launch of the Google for India Digitization Fund, which will help accelerate the adoption of digital services in the country.
Pichai says the fund will be invested in local tech businesses, partnerships, and infrastructure. Google plans to invest in four broad categories: language-services, helping Indian companies adopt digitization, customizing products to cater to India’s specific needs, and the use of AI for “social good” in the “health, education and agricultural sectors.”
Pichai also lauded PM Narendra Modi’s Digital India project, which aims to uplift the country’s digital infrastructure. He also mentioned in his blog that this mission is “deeply personal,” given that he is Indian born.
Why is this investment important to Google?
India is already a huge market for Google’s primary products, like Android, Google Search, and YouTube. Cheap data rates have led to a boom in internet usage, especially in regional areas, which holds a major share in overall content consumption in India. However, one big hurdle is the language barrier since India is a diverse country with hundreds of dialects. This is why Google is also planning to create services that would be accessible in regional languages too.
The timing of such a large investment by Google is quite interesting given the recent ban imposed on Chinese apps in India, including popular ones like TikTok, UC Browser, and WeChat.
Google can expand its presence by filling the void created by some apps’ exit, especially when it comes to browsers, communication tools, and utility apps. And it’s not just Google, this opportunity is equally big for other Silicon Valley giants.
We have recently seen several big companies entering the Indian market with substantial funds. Facebook has already invested $6 billion to buy a stake in Jio, the country’s biggest mobile network. Intel and Qualcomm are also planning to invest in Jio. Meanwhile, Apple is planning to open its first store in India by 2021.
So India could very much become the next big growth incubator in the future, and maybe even the “next Silicon Valley.”