Google India AH_1

India’s Explosive Growth is Sending Silicon Valley East

February 10, 2016 - Written By Tom Dawson

Google might be one of the bigger names that’s trying their best to woo the Indian nation, but they’re far from the only one. Over the past couple of years, Silicon Valley has turned their attention to the Indian market with increasing fervor, and with good reason. Google’s own Sundar Pichai often talks about the “next billion” to come online, and while Google definitely has a vested interest in being there when they do come online, other Silicon Valley firms aren’t willing to be left out. Facebook’s “Free Basics” plan might have had its wings clipped by the Indian Government earlier this week, but the blue network, among others, are looking to India for their next big growth spurt.

During 2015, the nation added a further 100 Million users to the web, bringing the total up to 400 Million Indians online. To reach their first 100 Million, it took almost a decade to get there from just 10 Million users 10 years ago. That initial growth contrasts with the explosive growth that India is experiencing right now, which itself contrasts against the recent slowing experienced in China and a near-halt in the US and Europe. Roughly 20% of Indians own a smartphone, and those that do end up purchasing such a device will use it as their first opportunity to jump online. Google know this only too well, which is why they chose India as one of the starting nations for their Android One initiative, and presumably why their backing of Free WiFi in train stations recently launched along with flood alerts. Google might have a good platform with Android and good hardware partners, but Facebook and WhatsApp are winning the software battle. WhatsApp, in particular, is causing Google headaches as users can use their existing phone number to sign up, while Google asks for a gmail address to get people online using Hangouts. Facebook has become big in India as well, and will always be known as the favorite social media network, especially when compared to Google+.

Speaking of hardware, the Indian Government has taken steps to ensure that India will be known for manufacturing devices, not just the consumption of them. Firms like Samsung and Sony have started manufacturing in the region as part of the Modi Government’s “Make in India” scheme and it’s clear that India is willing to become part of the modern, connected world in a very big way. For a long time, China was once thought of as the cash cow of the Far East, but it seems Silicon Valley has found attention for a fresh market now.