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Tech Giants Bullish On Next Billion Users In India

Not so long ago, India was off the radar for the famous FAANG group of tech giants who have disrupted the way billions of people communicate, connect, shop and entertain globally.

Today, the famous five — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google — are fighting for space in the “mobile first” Indian market where digitisation is in full swing to bring the last-mile connectivity and smartphone revolution — riding on ultra-cheap data plans — has reached smaller cities and towns.

You can buy anything with just one click, order food and cab online, pay utility bills, clear off credit card debts, book movies and flight tickets — even live darshan of your family deity — and connect with anyone, anywhere.

Clearly, the FAANG family has realised the growing digital hunger among one billion-plus Indians which needs to be satiated.

According to industry experts, India is the fastest-growing among the top 20 smartphone markets globally, with a large untapped user base potential in Tier V and VI cities and beyond.

The rapid growth of the smartphone market can be attributed to several factors like low smartphone penetration, inexpensive mobile data and a growing aspirational middle class.

As a result, “the Indian smartphone market continues to look fertile in the coming years, helping brands grow and enhance their portfolios.

“Certainly, for Apple too, it’s a big market to target and grow as the aspirational buyers continue to opt for this luxury brand,” Upasana Joshi, Associate Research Manager, Client Devices, IDC India, told IANS.

Apple is likely to begin manufacturing high-end iPhones in India and open its own branded stores, while seeking “a sector-specific policy to boost smartphone exports”.

The current smartphone user base in India is at over 450 million which is set to grow by leaps and bounds.

This gives FAANG companies ample opportunities to unveil lucrative deals and offers to woo more users to their services.

Facebook has over 300 million Indian users, WhatsApp has crossed 400 million and Instagram hovers around 70 million users in the country.

Seeing a tremendous grow in the digital payments market — estimated to hit $1 trillion by 2023 — WhatsApp is all set to launch its peer-to-peer, UPI-based Pay service for small and medium businesses (SMBs) later this year.

“Given the popularity and reach of WhatsApp in India, it is a given that WhatsApp Pay will make a strong dent on the payments ecosystem, and the incumbents therein,” Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group, CyberMedia Research, told IANS.

Amazon, which holds 30 percent of the e-commerce market in India, has become a local kirana shop for people in smaller towns. Its Cloud-computing arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been growing steadily in the country. AWS Mumbai Region has over 100,000 active customers in India.

The popular video streaming service Netflix has taken the Indian audience by storm. According to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, India is a competitive and exciting market with its diverse dynamics and large pool of stories.

In the latest earnings call with analysts, Netflix Chief Content Officer Theodore Sarandos said that “we’ve been seeing nice steady increases in engagement with our Indian viewers that we think we can keep building on. Growth in that country is a marathon. So we’re in it for the long haul”.

A Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study estimates that India’s video-on-demand market will touch $5 billion by 2023 from $500 million last year. For Netflix, the country is a lucrative destination.

This year, the streaming service is expected to spend $15 billion on content, and India is big on their radar.

Google, on the other hand, too has ramped up efforts to digitise nearly 60 million SMBs in the country.

“SMBs in India want to both learn and grow. More than a million businesses have actually setup their websites through Google Business,” said Shalini Girish, Google Customer Solutions Director.

“There are over 26 million listings that have been setup by businesses. There are about 58.5 million SMBs in India and 45 percent of them have a presence on Google Maps and Google Search,” Girish told IANS.

The company has created several “India first” feature for Maps and Search — like the “Bike Mode and “Loo Review” that shows nearby public toilets on Maps as you travel.

The Internet giant currently provides solutions for both conventional and age-old businesses to new-age startups. At least 50 Indian start-ups had benefitted from the programme till date.

In a nutshell, FAANG group has realised the potential India has and has doubled down on efforts to create ‘India first’ products for the world.―Newsd

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