Sundar Pichai’s Visit and Google’s Plans for India

Google CEO Sundar Pichai in India

Google CEO Sundar Pichai in India

Sundar Pichai, the India-born CEO of Google, recently visited India. The main intention of the visit was to enable the biggest tech company in the world present its vision for 2016 and share it with the users through a special event that was held in coordination with the media. He also met Narendra Modi and Pranab Mukherjee during the said visit. This is Pichai’s second visit to India. He had visited the country in 2014 to initiate the worldwide launch of making pure Android available to all people who use the less expensive smartphones. At that time he had been heading Android.

New Announcements Made

In his first visit to India as the Google CEO, Sundar Pichai made a number of announcements about products that would cater specifically to Indians. In a nutshell, they would provide greater access to internet to Indians. Pichai also had a meeting with Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Union Communications and IT Minister, in order to get started with the pilot testing part of Project Loon in the country. The project looks to use huge balloons in order to get more people connected to the internet.

The government has agreed to the project in principle and BSNL, the premier state-owned communications organization, will help the project get off the ground. The tech giant is also supposed to provide wi-fi facilities for free across 100 railway stations in India. Google will be associating with Railtel to fulfill the said project and shall also use the organization’s fibre optic network in order to get the wireless access network up and running. It is also expected that Asus Chromebit will be launched in India now. It is supposed to happen in January and the product is supposed to cost INR 7999. Pichai has also announced a tap-to-translate feature on its OS that will start operating from 2016.

The basic aim of this feature is to connect millions of Indians, who use Android phones, in their mother languages. With this feature, users will not have to resort to Google Translate and instead will be able to save time on the translation. Caesar Sengupta, the VP of Android, has said that it will first start with the Hindi and diversify to regional languages such as Bengali, Marathi, and Punjabi.

Google has also launched a new feature for YouTube named ‘pause to buffer’. With this facility, people will be able to stop a video, and continue with other activities even as the video is getting buffered. Google will also come up with better versions of cricket replays and live scores from 2016 according to Tamar Yehoshua, the VP of Google Search. Pichai has also stated that plans to start a big campus in Hyderabad are afoot. Google is also expected to coordinate with the National Skill Development Council and train Android developers. It is also expected that either Android P or Android N will be named after an Indian dessert. A poll will be held for the purpose.

How will India be a Beneficiary?

Thanks to the India-specific technological developments, now it will take lesser time for Indians to search on Google. This will benefit people who make do with slow internet connections. Courtesy the streamlined web pages and search engine results pages (SERPs), it will take less time for the content to load. In the present condition, most people who use internet on a regular basis find searching anything to be a frustrating experience. Yehoshua says that in India half of the people use 2G networks and ones who are using 3G say that the speeds are no better than 2G. She has said that Google is looking to correct the scenario with its streamlined pages.

The decision to offer wi-fi facilities for free at 100 railway stations will also improve internet access for people. They will get speeds like broadband. If and when the Hyderabad campus of Google is launched, the company will employ more Indians for engineering purposes and to work in its various business teams. This will only mean better employment for the skilled workforce in India.

Google will be training 2 million Android developers across 30 universities in the country and this will go on for a period of 3 years. This is perhaps the biggest training exercise of its kind at a corporate level and one can only imagine the career opportunities that await developers trained by Google. Google Maps are also supposed to list more companies, which will help them become more visible for the users. With the Chromebit, people will be able to upgrade their old PCs and get an experience similar to Chromebooks.

How does Google Stand to Gain from It?

The ‘pause to buffer’ facility is expected to help Google big time. Eyal Manor, the Vice President of Engineering for YouTube, has said that recently there has been a 200% increase in the content uploaded on the site from users in India. The time that Indians spend on the channel is also 150% more than global averages. It is expected that with this feature, which makes using YouTube more convenient, a lot more Indians will be using it and with increased users YouTube will also get more ads and more revenue, by extension.

Is it a Domino Effect of Modi’s Outreach Strategy?

When Modi had visited USA and interacted with the tech companies, it had been promised to him by Google that free wi-fi facilities will be provided at 100 railway stations of India. So, in that way the similar announcement by Pichai – and the others as well – could be regarded as an outcome of the outreach strategy adopted by the Indian Prime Minister.

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