Google Sets Its Sight on India to Score Billions More Users (GOOGL)

After Facebook made its entry in India, Google is going the same route, targeting the emerging market to score more users.

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Google-parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is clearly not one to rest on its laurels. Despite being the number 1 search engine on the planet and successfully entering the smartphone industry with its Android OS, Google is now focusing on capturing its next billion of internet users.

According to CEO, Sundar Pichai, Google’s Alphabet Inc. will be setting its sights on emerging markets overseas, going the same route as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) when the Cupertino tech giant entered the Chinese market to sell more iPhones. This time however, Google will be pouring its funds growing its presence in developing countries, particularly in India.

According to the company’s September announcement, Google’s parent company presented five initiatives that could encourage locals from using Google. The game plan includes offering affordable data and faster internet connection. Another service includes setting up hot spots in key areas of the country (malls, schools, cafes) to provide connection to the masses. At the moment, Google offers connectivity to 50 railway stations all over India.

“Over the next three years, we plan to help more than 300,000 villages across India go online,” Pichai announced back in December. A few months later, Pichai is back laying out his plans for New Delhi in a packed auditorium.

Google has also released an offline YouTube [YT] app called YouTube Go. YouTube Go – which was designed for users with little to no internet connection – allows users to download videos during off-peak hours where the rate is much cheaper. This app also lets users share videos to friends without consuming data.

The app was initially available in India but has also been available in the Philippines and Indonesia since 2014. Google plans to expand the features of YouTube Go and roll it out to new markets, including the Middle East.

Apart from offering free connectivity and offline YT app, the search giant announced that its Chrome browser will now automatically compress MP4 videos, saving users up to 67% data. The web pages are also optimized for slow networks often used in developing countries with 2G.

In addition, the mobile version of Google comes with a new download feature that enables users to save their content while using wireless connection and then get access to said content offline. And to make the most out of slow internet, Google News and Weather app for Android now come with a Lite mode. The lite mode offers a stripped down content while on slow internet.

Google is also set to tweak its Google Play app to “pre-load” some elements of the market while on Wi-Fi, allowing the store to load faster on a weaker signal.

With a population of 1.3 billion, India is one of the largest and quite possibly, lucrative emerging markets in Asia. However, the majority of the population is still not online because of the high connection rates.

Google will be battling it out with social networking giant Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), whose been steadily offering cheaper internet to gain more users in the country.

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