Google wants an Entry Point to your Smartphone
India being a mobile-first country where many people will get their first access to the Internet via a mobile device is leaving Google worried.
Times of India reports that despite having over 90% smartphone market share in India, Google is lacking a big consumer app in the country. Facebook has WhatsApp (and Messenger), both of which are massive in India, and Google is getting anxious that it could lose out. Google CEO Sundar Pichai made his first official trip to India in mid-December as the company looks to expand in the country. Pichai announced a partnership with the Indian government to bring more of India's 1.2 billion population online. Business Insider spoke to Keval Desai, an ex-Google employee turned investor, about the problems Google is having in one of the fastest growing markets on Earth. (He was keen to stress that his views are not based on inside knowledge, but an understanding of Google's culture and businesses.)
"Messaging apps have become the entry point for most of the tasks on a smartphone [in India]," he said. "Google owns the [operating system] in Android, but it doesn't own the entry point on a smartphone." Becoming a destination website will be difficult for Google in India, according to Desai. "[Internet users in India] do all of their communication, commerce, social activities within the walled garden of WhatsApp," he said. "Many of these users don't even have a [Gmail] account because they were not even online until they got their first mobile phone so they are not in the Google universe and they don't search much on their phone either so Google truly never sees them."