460 million. That’s the number of Internet users in India, out of 1.3 billion people (according to the statistics published by the Internet World Statistics) putting it at second place behind China and above USA. That’s a lot of users and for a particular Web Search company, a lot of money too.
Most of Google’s revenue comes from advertising on the web, and with better targeting it makes more money; that’s when Google launched all its various services for free. From Gmail, Android, Maps and (now the defunct) Orkut, each one was created to better understand the user Google was targeting with its advertising. And it worked; Google is currently the most valuable Search Engine company.
Earlier, most of its focus was on first world countries – advertising and launching its new game-changing services – but soon, Google realised that India and China, with their vast populations, were gold hoards waiting to be mined. China didn’t play, it wanted control over its citizen’s data and Google wasn’t willing to violate the privacy of its users. Since then, they not only increased their focus towards India but also hired an Indian to lead the company as the CEO.
On the surface, Google’s Allo, the latest instant messaging application with a VI (virtual intelligence) based assistant, seems very un-compelling and incomplete. Features that would normally exist in an instant messaging application are missing. It is only available for mobile phones, unlike other chat apps that are also being developed for desktops/laptops, to enable switching between devices in our multi-device connected world. Allo is also the only Google application that doesn’t use or require a Google account. Making the application work right out of the box without the hassle of registration does give them a point for ease of usage.
Although there are more mobile users in India than there are people having access to a toilet, people cannot afford multiple devices. They can also barely afford smartphones to take baby steps in the highly rewarding digital revolution. If Google was developing an application to address the Indian market, it would have been a waste of resources to develop a multi-platform application.
This marks another addition to the list of India focused projects that Google has implemented. From being the first country with the introduction of highly affordable ‘Android One’ android phones to the installation of wi-fi access points across popular Indian railway stations for free internet, Google has invested a lot in India. There is also the customized YouTube application, ‘YouTube Go’, launched for India, which enables offline video viewing by downloading it in the background when having access to internet.
India always had Google’s curiosity, and now, has its attention.