Google has joined other major tech companies, such as Intel, Facebook and Qualcomm, in investing in Indian telecoms business Jio Platforms.
Google has become the latest company to back Jio Platforms, investing $4.5bn in the Indian business in exchange for a 7.73pc stake.
In a statement today (15 July), the two companies said that the investment will build on Jio and Google’s existing efforts to expand digitisation across India, beyond the 500m existing internet users in the country.
The companies also announced that they have entered into a commercial agreement to jointly develop an entry-level, affordable smartphone with optimisations to Android’s operating system and the Google Play store.
In a statement, Reliance Industries wrote: “Together we are excited to rethink, from the ground up, how millions of users in India can become owners of smartphones. This effort will unlock new opportunities, further power the vibrant ecosystem of applications and push innovation to drive growth for the new Indian economy.”
Recent investments in Jio Platforms
In recent months, companies such as Facebook, Qualcomm, General Atlantic and Silver Lake have all made investments in Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries. Most recently, Intel announced its plans to invest $253.5m in the business, which has more than 388m subscribers.
Founded by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries owns India’s largest mobile network operator Jio, along with other digital businesses.
Commenting on the deal with Google, Ambani said: “Google has empowered millions of Indians to access helpful information and, like Jio, is a force for change and innovation.
“We welcome Google onboard and are excited about our partnership for what it can deliver to Indians, from universalising internet usage to deepening the new digital economy and providing a prime mover to India’s economic growth.”
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, added: “Reliance Industries, and Jio Platforms in particular, deserve a good deal of credit for India’s digital transformation. The pace and scale of digital transformation in India is hugely inspiring for us and reinforces our view that building products for India first helps us build better products for users everywhere.”
Pichai said that Google is “proud” to make the investment into Jio and excited that the collaboration between the two companies will focus on increasing internet access for hundreds of millions of people in India.
Jio Platforms has invested in India’s 4G network and made other significant investments in broadband connectivity, smart devices, cloud and edge computing, big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain.