US-based technology giant Google, which is investing ₹33,737 crore in Jio Platforms for a 7.7% stake, will work with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) to provide internet access to hundreds of millions of Indians, who do not have a smartphone, while improving the mobile experience for all.
In a video message at RIL’s annual shareholders’ meet on Wednesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said getting technology into the hands of more people is a big part of Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and to make it universally accessible and useful.
“Through this partnership with Jio Platforms, we see the chance to have an even greater impact either company could have alone." Pichai said the partnership is a key part of Google’s next chapter of investment in India.
Earlier in the week, Google announced its Google for India Digitisation Fund, wherein it aims to invest ₹75,000 crore to accelerate the digital economy over five to seven years.
The fund will be invested through a mix of partnerships, equity investments, operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. It will focus on four key areas—enabling access and information, building new products and services, empowering businesses and leveraging technology and artificial intelligence for social good. Google’s investment of $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms is the first and the biggest investment from this fund.
“Growing up, I remember how the arrival of each new technology improved the lives of my family. Today, people in India no longer have to wait for technology to come to them. A whole new generation of technology is happening here first and at the same time smartphone and affordable data have made it possible for billions of Indians to go online."
Pichai credited Reliance and Jio for the progress, but said there is more work to be done to connect every Indian to the opportunities technology provides.
Later in the day, Sanjay Gupta, country head and vice president of Google India, and Sameer Samat, vice president of product management of Android and Google Play wrote in a blog that Google and Jio Platforms have entered into a commercial agreement to jointly develop an entry-level affordable smartphone with optimizations to the Android operating system and the Play Store.
“This partnership comes at an exciting but critical stage in India’s digitization. It’s been amazing to see the changes in technology that have enabled more than half a billion Indians to get online. The time is right to increase our commitment to India significantly, in collaboration with local firms, and this partnership with Jio is the first step. We want to work with Jio and other leaders in the local ecosystem to ensure that smartphones—together with the apps and services in the Play Store—are within reach for many more Indians. And we believe the pace of Indian innovation means that the experiences we create for India can ultimately be expanded to the rest of the world," said the blog.
Google has been expanding it’s last-mile presence in India via programmes such as Internet Saathi, Google Pay.