‘Insights from India Help Create Right Products for Others’
Google is using insights it receives from India to create the right products for the country as well as for other global markets including the US, says Karim Temsamani, Asia-Pacific (APAC) president of the Internet giant. “What we learn from India, we can scale to the rest of the world,” Temsamani told Neha Tyagi and Sagar Malviya, in an interview, during his sixth visit to the country in three years. Edited excerpts:
For your parent company, India still contributes only a small percentage of its overall revenues despite it being a market leader in digital advertising here. When do you see it improving? One of the reasons why those numbers are not as big as other countries is that we have very successful businesses in a lot of countries. So, it will take time for India to catch up to them. India is a phenomenal country for us at the global level and certainly in APAC in terms of its relevance to our numbers. APAC is becoming the centre of the world both because of the size and population, and from a funds perspective. I think we are going to see an incredible increase in household wealth over the next 15 years, with a lot of it driven by India. When you look at what is happening from a user’s perspective you see that APAC is shaping things to come by shaping popular culture. Cricket has already replaced baseball. Well, it is the sport that is most searched on Google and all of that is driven by India.
How unique is India? Can it help build some of your global innovations? India was the first country in the world that moved to mobile for maps access. Because the population is that young and they are critically doing things differently on their devices, we know that the products that we create for this region not only have an impact on COMPANY PHOTO this region but also on the world. Giving an example, we got great insights from Indian consumers as to how they wanted to consume video. We knew that a lot of times there were issues like cost to access or the network access itself wasn’t there, but we knew there was a will to do that. So, we started providing a product that allowed people to download video offline. YouTube offline not only became incredibly successful for us in India and is growing very fast, but the feature allowed us to create YouTube Go which is our offering that eventually got into other products like maps and countries and American users today are using maps at a high rate. The insights that we gain from listening to Indian users have allowed us to create real products that are relevant to a country like the US, which is great to see.
Is Internet connectivity still a big issue in India? Access is continuously improving in India and every time I come here I find that my own access is improving and I think all the companies continue to expand their offerings and are improving the bandwidth. But on top of that there is competition. Jio has come into the market and has driven a lot of different behaviours for consumers, including economic behaviours. So, any investment in the ecosystem is positive.
How can Google help in improving network because eventually it will benefit the most? When we started Google Wi-Fi at railways stations so that people can have free access to Wi-Fi network we have seen tremendous results. We have this in play at 120 railway stations in the country and we have 6 million people accessing the network every month. We estimate we have 15,000 people accessing Internet for the first time in their life every single day on this network. We are very focused on railway stations right now and are planning to expand to 400 stations in the next couple of years. What we have done is create a product, Google Station, for the Indian Railways and are now talking to various companies if they want to use that product to create Wi-Fi network.