India has become the latest battleground in the fierce fight for digital dominance among US tech giants Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Even as the three rivals slug it out for ad dollars in a slowing US online market, they are looking for the next frontier of growth. And nothing looks as good as India’s under-penetrated market.
Google officials in India earlier this year were alarmed to learn that Facebook was likely to generate about $980 million in revenue in the country in 2018, Reuters reported in September. Google’s India revenues reached $1 billion only last year.
Google is now pushing back, attempting to lure customers with better ad-buying tools and more localised services.
The company recently rolled out a new app called Neighbourly just for India. The app aims to answer questions people often have about their immediate surroundings, such as where to find the best street food or a reliable car repair shop. The app will source its answers from other users, or "neighbours."
Amazon has also come up with its social ecommerce platform Spark in India, a place to discover things from people who share your interests.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration for home décor or seeking advice for the best long-distance running shoes, Spark makes it easy to discover and shop. It will be available to all Amazon users but only Prime members will be able to contribute to the platform.
The latest efforts by Google and Amazon highlight the need for US tech firms to tap into India's vast and fast-growing internet. There are just over 500 million people online in India, leaving nearly 900 million yet to get connected.
Google has long aspired to be the go-to platform in India, where rivals Facebook Inc and its WhatsApp messaging service have already amassed a huge user base and Amazon Inc is spending billions on e-commerce.
In 2016, the company began offering free Wi-Fi in the country’s largest train stations and has since expanded to 400 locations.
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First Published: IST