Google joins rush into India with plan to in­vest $10bn

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By Hannah Boland

GOOGLE is in­vest­ing $10bn (£7.9bn) in India over the next five to seven years in the lat­est ex­am­ple of Sil­i­con Val­ley’s tech ti­tans mov­ing into the world’s big­gest un­tapped dig­i­tal mar­ket.

Speak­ing at the an­nual Google for India event, boss Sun­dar Pichai said India’s dig­i­tal jour­ney was “far from com­plete”. Mr Pichai, who was born and ed­u­cated in the coun­try, said there was “still more work to do in or­der to make the in­ter­net af­ford­able and use­ful for a bil­lion In­di­ans”.

His firm pledged to set up a Google for India Digi­ti­sa­tion Fund, through which it will al­lo­cate $10bn in eq­uity in­vest­ments, part­ner­ships and op­er­a­tional in­vest­ments in the coun­try. Part of this would go to­wards help­ing get more In­dian peo­ple af­ford­able ac­cess to the in­ter­net, and pro­vide them with in­for­ma­tion in their own lan­guages, Mr Pichai said.

Google will also spend cash on de­vel­op­ing new prod­ucts and ser­vices specif­i­cally for the In­dian mar­ket.

Naren­dra Modi, India’s prime min­is­ter, wrote on Twit­ter that he had had an “ex­tremely fruit­ful” meet­ing with Mr Pichai where the pair dis­cussed “lev­er­ag­ing the power of tech­nol­ogy to trans­form the lives of India’s farm­ers, youngsters and en­trepreneur­s”.

News of the lat­est in­vest­ment comes in the wake of sim­i­lar ef­forts by other tech gi­ants in India. Ear­lier this year, Ama­zon said it would be pour­ing $1bn into India, while Face­book struck a $5.7bn deal with In­dian telecoms firm Reliance Jio in April.

India has a pop­u­la­tion of around 1.37bn peo­ple and it is set to ex­ceed China as the world’s most pop­u­lous coun­try by 2027. How­ever, hun­dreds of mil­lions of its ci­ti­zens still do not own a smart­phone, mak­ing it hugely ap­peal­ing to tech gi­ants that are reach­ing sat­u­ra­tion in Western na­tions.

Sun­dar Pichai, the Google boss, has pledged to im­prove af­ford­able in­ter­net ac­cess in India

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