Sundar Pichai made his first official visit to the country this week since taking over the reins at Google. In a media event called “Google for India” held in the national capital earlier this week, he spoke about the importance of the Indian market for the country while chalking out some of the plans the company has for the country, concurrent with the PM’s vision of Digital India, which the two had discussed earlier this year during the latter’s visit to the US.
Pichai spoke about extending internet penetration in India with a pilot of the ambitious Project Loon promised early next year. He also said that Google would be bringing Wi-Fi to 100 stations in the country starting with Mumbai Central, Mumbai in January. Pichai also said that Google would be increasing its staff in the country and building a brand new Hyderabad campus.
We asked some industry leaders to share their thoughts on Pichai’s speech:
Ajay Kakar Chief Marketing Officer, Aditya Birla Group
Sundar Pichai confessed that Google and he have received a lot from India. And shared his commitment to give back to India much more than what they have received. Google's commitment to India was palpable. Be it their commitment to ensure the wider availability of connectivity, affordable handsets in the hands of mass India, empowering mass India to use and access the internet or the promotion of local languages for easy usage.
Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO South Asia Dentsu Aegis Network:
All the points made in Sundar Pichai’s address are game-changers. The impact that this will have on digital marketing is obvious. But it is also clear that these steps will impact the country as a whole. The more tech-enabled we are, the more information and knowledge we will share, the more conscious we will be as a society. Google’s initiatives, if successful , will make impact us not as any industry but as a nation.
CVL Srinivas, CEO of GroupM South Asia:
It was fascinating to listen to Sundar Pichai talk about Google for India. While there are a lot of interesting initiatives being developed for India on the one hand, there are many product ideas born in India and being taken to the world. It shows how the scale, complexity, diversity of India coupled with our talent base can make us a hub for product innovation. I came away inspired by his speech. He has a razor sharp focus and a clearly articulated vision. But for me what makes him really special is his simplicity.
Joseph George, Regional President (South & Southeast Asia) and Group CEO India of Mullen Lowe Lintas
Google's scale, ambition and intent for India was very evident. And all expressed and demonstrated in typical Google style - excited, convinced and with all humility. I believe that they want to and will play a disproportionate role in causing more Indians to want to get online.
Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO, Madison Media & OOH at Madison World:
Sundar Pichai showed a very inspiring vision in the areas of providing universal internet access to India and developing products for a country with limited connectivity capability. A tad less exciting was the talk on platforms for SMEs, content creators and developers.