Google’s Mobile Revolution Starts in India?

Google Mobile IndiaGoogle (NASDAQ: GOOG) has been making moves to place videos upload on YouTube available via mobile devices through a deal with Verizon. This made us wonder what else Google may be planning in their mobile division. This past Friday (Dec 1, 2006) Google and AirTel announced a strategic partnership. Airtel is the leading GSM cellphone service provider in India with over 28 million mobile customers. What makes this interesting is that Orkut, the same social network which failed to take hold in the United States, has been gaining traction in India rapidly.

After acquiring MySpace for $580 million, Rupert Murdoch stated in Wired Magazine (July ‘06) that Google could have bought it for half the price. After Googl passed on MySpace and built their own social network called Orkut. It was largely considered a failure in the United States, instead Orkut grew in Brazil and India, and recently it’s growing even further in South East Asia.

Recently Facebook has released a toolbar allowing users to search the vast user database, a MySpace toolbar with similar search capability is being developed through a Google and FOX Interactive collaboration. It does not seem that far off to think that Google may provide the same search service for Orkut. They already have the large Indian cellphone market. And it’s a market that’s growing.

“In India, mobile-phone ownership outweighs PC ownership by a ratio of two to one. And there are five million more mobile-phone users coming online every month,” stated Deep Nishar, Director of Google wireless products stated in the Times Online. “By the end of this year there will be more mobile phones in India than in America.”

Through their deal with AirTel, Google is becoming posed to take the population by storm starting with the youth through the use of Orkut. What better way to get kids to use their search service then to get them addicted to a social network and then make it accessible to them anywhere?

With the recent restructuring of many Google services to be more accessible on mobile devices, it is easy to tell a considerable amount of effort by the search giant is being put into getting services in your hand wherever you are. Most of us knew that Google is trying to set off a mobile movement, but I’m not sure how many of us saw this revolution sweeping in from South East Asia.

Amit Chowdhry
Mo Kakwan

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