On Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Google is working with Jio closely to build an affordable smartphone. Google’s announcement comes at a time when Indian ministry is none too pleased with tech giants for still not complying with the IT Rules 2021.
In 2020, Google had bought 7.7% stake in the Jio Platforms for Rs. 33,737 crores and also shook hands with Jio to formally engage together to develop an entry-level affordable smartphone for Indians. Pichai’s announcement on May 27,2021 reaffirms the deal.
In a virtual conference with reporters, Pichai was quoted saying, “We are focused on building an affordable phone… we are committed to making progress on the project and we are working with them (Jio)”. In 2020, Google had bought 7.7% of the Jio Platforms for the price of Rs. 33,737 crores and had formally signed an agreement with Jio to develop an entry-level affordable smartphone.
Its investment in Jio was part of the ‘Google for India Digitisation Fund’ which was announced on July 13, 2020. In his statement published on Google’s official blog it was written that, “we (Google) will invest ₹75,000 crore, or approximately $10 billion, into India over the next 5-7 years. We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy.”
“Looking for new investment opportunities”: Google CEO Sundar Pichai
On Thursday, the Indian-American executive Sundar Pichai also announced that-
“Google is also looking at new opportunities to deploy funds from its USD 10 billion India Digitisation Fund (IDF), and will make some announcements later this year.”
In the virtual conference, Pichai also spoke about the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic on such projects and made note of the importance of technology in people’s lives.
“…We realise the importance technology plays, and be it building products like Google Meets or working to make sure all of this works well on their (telecom operators’) networks, and bringing more affordable access to smartphones and computing, it’s just deepened our efforts there,”
-the Alphabet CEO said.
Google and Jio: A Match Made in Tech Heaven For Indian Consumers?
Google’s absolute domination is unparcelled when it comes to software and search. However, the company in the past few years have struggled to penetrate the Indian market with hardware options like Pixel smartphones.
Although the first few iterations of the smartphones received high praise, especially for its camera, the smartphone could not lure an average Indian consumer. A part of it had to do with the price as the Pixels were sold at upward of Rs. 40,000 range.
Indian consumers chose to buy cheaper alternatives that came in the form of OnePlus and even Samsung. Google for the most part has understood that Indian consumers were not taking too kind to Pixels and hence did not launch Pixel 5 in India.
Meanwhile Jio has also tried to enter into smartphone market when it announced the Jio phones, a standard candy bar type phone which came with a Jio Sim and costed only Rs. 1,500. However, Indians had already tasted the flavour of smartphones with large touchscreens.
This ultimately led to the failure of the Jio Phone. However, one can’t disagree that Jio has achieved a deeper telecom penetration in India by offering its customers 4G internet connectivity at cheap rates in 2019-20 when no other telecom provider was doing so.
Thus, Google and Jio’s partnership could be a match made in the technology heaven for the Indian consumers.