Google says it will spend $10 billion to accelerate digitization in India

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Google said it plans to spend $10 billion over the next five to seven years to help accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in India.

Sundar Pichai, who was born in the country and is now chief executive officer of parent Alphabet Inc., made the announcement at the annual Google for India event via video conference. He said the outbreak of the coronavirus has made clear the importance of technology for conducting business and for connecting with friends and family.

“This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy,” he said of the India Digitization Fund.

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Google said the investments would focus on several key areas:

• Enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, including Hindi, Tamil and Punjabi
• Building new products and services that are relevant to India’s unique needs
• Empowering businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation
• Leveraging technology and artificial intelligence for social good, in areas like health, education, and agriculture

Google, founded in 1998 in Silicon Valley, entered India six years later with offices in Bangalore and Hyderabad. Its focus at the time was search services to help people find relevant information on everything from Bollywood news to cricket scores, Pichai said.

The India business has since grown into one of the company’s most important. The country now has more than 500 million internet users, second only to China, with growth that has drawn all the American technology giants.

Google, Inc. and Facebook Inc. are plowing billions into the market to gain users and set the foundation for future revenue growth. The country is fertile ground as the companies vie to become the gateway for first-time internet users going online to buy products, stream content, find information and make payments.

In the last decade, Google has successfully launched several products in India, including a Google Saathi service to bring women in rural areas online and its popular Google Pay service.

“This mission is deeply personal to me,” Pichai said. “When I was young, every new piece of technology brought new opportunities to learn and grow. But I always had to wait for it to arrive from someplace else. Today, people in India no longer have to wait for technology.”

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