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India is the world’s second largest smartphone market, but 56% of mobile phone users still use feature phones. Most places in India are plagued by patchy internet connectivity, regular power outages and historically high cost of mobile data, making the utility of a smartphone questionable.
Addressing these concerns, Google is adapting its products to the needs of the Indian market by offering a new operating system and a slew of apps that are meant to run on slow internet speeds and provide multi-lingual support.
Ease of use is a significant entry barrier to using smartphones, and these offerings by Google will support the government’s Digital India campaign by increasing adoption. People will be able to access government services such as Passport Seva, Kisan Suvidha and Pharma Sahi Daam. While various prepaid wallets and unified payments interface apps support feature phones, smartphone adoption should increase the use of these cashless alternatives as well. Overall, initiatives like these will help bridge the digital divide between urban and rural India.