Google in Search of Next 1 Billion Internet Users

Search engine major Google has begun a search. This time around not for results but for search queries from non-English users. It is in the process of evolving strategies and fine-tuning products to reach out to the next one hundred crore Internet users. Last year, about 220 crore accessed the Internet, with the remaining 460 crore people remaining out of the Web. Half of those who don’t have the Web live were in India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

With the Internet saturating the English-speaking population across the globe, Google has set its eyes on the non-English users in the emerging markets. It says India is going to play a major role as non-English users come online. This is evident as Julian Persaud, Managing Director of Google’s South-East Asia operations, Loren Shuster, Country Director (Singapore and Emerging Markets), and Lalit Katragadda, Country Head (Products) of India, present the ‘next-one-billion’ challenge to a host of journalists from the region. Google says emerging countries are home to 330 crore people. Of this, only 47.50 crore people have access to the Internet, leaving huge scope for growth.


In an effort to reach out to them, Google has started Free Zone and Google Trader in some markets that offer free Internet and free Web sites for traders. “Who are the next billion and what happens when they come online,’’ the digital media company asks? It feels that 50 crore new users would access the Net in the next three years from the emerging countries. The United States would add only 1.5 crore, Julian Persaud pointed out.

And the most important change is a majority of the new users would access the net on their mobile devices and not the personal computer. Another characteristic of these new set of users is that they will be using the Web to express their entrepreneurial spirit and grow their business. “Only 2 per cent of 13 crore small businesses in emerging markets have online presence,” Nelson Mattos, Vice-President, Product and Engineering, Europe and Emerging Products, said.

Google says it is readying itself as the Web population surges. “We are building data centres closer to our users and working with local Internet service providers to ensure faster browsing experience,’’ Google executives said. Keeping in mind poor networks and weak bandwidths in the emerging economies, Google is fine-tuning Gmail and video chat to make them work on less reliable Internet connections.

-Hindu Business Line