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Pichai chooses India to launch small biz product for the globe

Business Standard:  January 05, 2017

New Delhi: Sundar Pichai, the India-born chief executive officer of Google, used his homeland to launch a global platform that allows small firms to build websites on their smartphones before the largest Internet firm takes it to other countries.

India has around 51 million small and medium businesses, but less than a fifth of them, or around 9 million, are online.

Google is looking to bring more small firms online, launching do-it-yourself courses for users to build websites on smartphones. This will help it engage and lock these users on its platform. At the same time, Google expects local solutions built for India can be replicated in other emerging markets in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

“When we solve for a place like India, we solve for everyone around the world. That has led us to grow our team here and spend more time and ensure the products are useful for everyone,” said Pichai, launching the MyBusiness tool with Law and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Google also launched Digital Unlocked, an education programme, in association with industry body FICCI and the Indian School of Business to teach mobile and online courses to help small businesses.

Since it stepped up focus on India over a decade, Google has been building India-specific products, engaging with the government to connect 100 railway stations with Internet via its Railwire project, and improving access in the hinterland.

The company is also working on a host of products around regional languages. In the second edition of the Google for India event last September, the company said it was doing extensive work on making searches more comprehensive in Indian languages.

The company is also launching a voice-based vernacular search platform. The platform now works in Hindi, but the company plans to make it available in other Indian languages. Last December, the first edition of the Google in India event saw Pichai launching a host of India-specific products.

Google also said India was the third largest startup ecosystem and the company had invested Rs 130 crore in it. The company has started Google Launchpad and Google Accelerator, investing in mid to late startups through Google Capital.

Prasad, who was also at the event, said Google was as much an Indian company as American and it needed to play a larger role in the domestic market by tailoring its products and working more on cyber security.

"Google India needs to tailor its operation more to India's psyche, local languages, local aspirations, local products... India's digital economy is going to be $1 trillion plus in the coming 3-4 years,” he said.

Stressing that Google should be more involved, the minister highlighted areas, including cyber security, where the technology giant could play a bigger role. Growth of digital payments would lead to stronger challenges in cyber security, he said.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.