I was reading an interesting article recently (linked below). The author argues that while Apple’s foray into India is just plain hype, Google has been quietly helping millions of Indians with its localised products and work to connect a billion people digitally.
He points to some good examples:
- Google Maps has now become ubiquitous on most of our phones. And Google Maps India is quite good if you look at it. It has mapped India very well at the street level and is helping millions travel to their destinations. Not to mention it facilitates e-commerce.
- Google’s Android is a big blessing for an emerging economy like India. It has enabled millions of Indians to access life-changing technology for the first time as manufacturers can sell phones with great quality software for cheap. If it were a closed iOS or Windows, most Indians would have never seen their first smartphone yet.
- Android One phones program is another great offering by Google. By encouraging manufacturers to build simple yet functional phones at really low costs, Google has helped even the poorest of Indian population access to technology.
- Other offerings like Google’s regional language support in everything from keyboards to search is helping millions understand and login to the Internet.
- Projects like Google free Wi-fi in partnership with Indian Railways and Loons are helping Internet access to the masses and connecting the next 1 billion to the web. They support projects like NPTEL program,, which help Indians get access to open courses by IITs and IIMs.
- Contests like code to learn are helping a new batch of young Indians take to coding and software development, improving the skill set of a vast number of people
Now compare this with Apple. Their highly priced phone is affordable by a small section of our population. In fact, until Apple started having trouble selling as many phones as before, they did not even consider India a good market. They haven’t done anything in India until now to support their growth in the future, let alone do something like a social impact project.
And as the author says, Apple is only waiting, for all Indians to get good quality internet access without contributing to it in any way so that they can sell more of their phones. Or dump their refurbished and unmarketable phones in the west for a good margin here in India.
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