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India Today Conclave 2012: Future of the Internet in India

Kushan Mitra     March 28, 2012
Kirthiga Reddy and Rajan Anandan, the India chiefs of Facebook and Google, respectively, took part in an illuminating session on the future of the Internet in India. They also had an intense discussion on whether the competition between the two Internet giants would be the marquee corporate battle of the future. "Both want what the other has," is how moderator Kallie Purie described the two companies.

{table}Anandan said that of the next billion Internet users, he expects over 200 million to come from India, mainly as mobile users. Without specifying a number, he said that a substantial number of visitors on Google's video sharing website, YouTube, came from the mobile web.

{quote}Reddy spoke about the tremendous progress Facebook has made in becoming available to more and more Indians in local languages. She also highlighted how the social networking site is empowering rural communities, particularly over mobile devices. She cited the case of turmeric farmers in Sangli, Maharashtra, who reversed a price drop using Facebook.

Underlining the power and reach of the web, Anandan suggested that YouTube is India's most powerful "youth channel" and entertainment distribution medium. "Today, there are over 5,000 full-length Indian movies and half a million songs on YouTube. Every month there are over 25 million unique visitors to the site."

Both Reddy and Anandan said their companies were not only competing but also co-operating. "It is in everybody's interest to get more people online," said Anandan, noting that e-commerce in India crossed the $6 billion mark in 2011 and should go up to $9 billion this year.

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