At the 11th India Today Conclave , held on March 16 in New Delhi, the session on who will emerge victorious in the web wars was evenly contested by Facebook India head, Kirthiga Reddy and Rajan Anandan, country head, Google.
The session opened with Kallie Purie's pivotal remarks on how increasingly, we all live our lives online through Facebook accounts and incessant tweets.
She also added that the ephemeral nature of the web, where online companies were made extinct in a matter of years, made it harder to predict what could be 'the next big thing'. Both Facebook and Google are big ticket web companies with a strong presence in India today and Purie introduced them to each other saying, "Both want what the other has."
Facebook's Reddy opened her speech by laying emphasis on how web revolution depended on putting people at the centre, especially those based in rural areas. Stressing the importance of community initiatives, Reddy explained how through Facebook, farmers in Sangli, Maharashtra were able to reverse the price drop of turmeric.
She further explained how tying up with government initiatives had the ability to bring about change in the society, and how almost 500 million users accessed Facebook in India in 2011.
"We're excited about what's to come," she said, and closed her speech with how the Indian web sphere needed to be bold and innovative to stay relevant.
Anandan echoed Reddy's call for innovation by stressing that the consumer was the ultimate king. "When we think of the next five years, we must think of how much value we can move into the web and out of other ecosystems for our customers," he said, adding that e-commerce in India had hit the $ 6 billion mark in 2011.
Today, people are increasingly drawn to the web to live out their dreams and fantasies; rather than view the world through traditional media, the web has become the one stop shop for all needs.
And it's not just social networking that's on the upswing but the web has changed the way small and medium-scale businesses operate. He claimed that businesses that have embraced the web grew almost nine times faster than those who chose to stay away.
Believe it or not, today 3.2 per cent of our GDP comes from the net and that number is only set to grow. Anandan hit the nail on the head when he summed it up thus: The relevant question today is no longer one about who will win the web…let's instead focus on getting the next million net users to log on."