INDUSTRY NEWS

Facebook's investment in Jio brings over the partnership between Airtel and Google

Published Date | 2020 April 29

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel and Google Cloud have announced a collaboration offering G Suite to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMBs) in India as part of their integrated portfolio of information and communication technologies.

By expanding the scope of digital networks across a ready-to-tape market, Reliance Jio's investment and collaboration with the likes of Facebook and Microsoft could give it a head start over Airtel-Google collaboration.

Global social media and digital advertising company Facebook announced investments in Jio Platforms Limited, part of Reliance Industries Limited, amounting to $5.7 billion or some 43,574 crore. Web thus becomes the biggest minority shareholder.

The target audience is the 60 million odd small businesses across the country that are the fabric of the unorganized retail economy.

Facebook, said in a statement, will create new ways for people and companies to work more effectively in the growing digital economy through collaboration with Jio. Bringing JioMart, the small business initiative of Jio, together with WhatsApp, will allow people to interact with companies, shop and eventually buy products in a seamless mobile experience.

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, with communities around the world in a shutdown, many of these entrepreneurs need digital resources that they can use to find and connect with consumers to grow their business.

In earlier 2020, telecom operator Bharti Airtel and Google Cloud announced a collaboration to deliver G Suite as part of its integrated portfolio of information and communication technology to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMBs) in India. G Suite is a series of smart applications — Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar and more — designed with real-time communication and artificial intelligence to bring people together and help them function in a smarter and healthier manner.

This partnership provided both companies with a forum to tap growth opportunities in India, which ranks among the fastest growing economies and has the world's second-highest number of internet users. Airtel serves more than 2,500 big corporations and more than 500,000 SMBs and technology startups throughout India.

Reliance Jio announced a 10-year deal with Microsoft in 2019 to help the operator build a network of large data centers across India. The tech giant will deploy its Azure cloud platform to enable offerings in these centers.

In April 22 2020 Jio also announced that it would provide free start-ups with the integrated cloud-Microsoft software infrastructure and a monthly fee of 1,500 for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

Airtel for its part, through this collaboration, gives Google possible access to more than 2,500 large corporations and more than 5,000 small businesses. Microsoft historically has wide company presence in the region. Google has a presence in the B2C market, as Android smartphones are prevalent.

The telecom rivalry in India is supplemented by a larger rivalry with major tech firms such as Amazon, Facebook and Google also seeking to set a lead in taping the largest open market for internet users. Although the B2C advertisement market directly to consumers has its drawbacks, both in terms of the company that can be monitored and the users' personal information that can be exchanged, a B2B approach through small and medium-sized businesses would give tech companies exposure to hyperlocal activity trends throughout the world.

Recent investments in start-ups across artificial intelligence or AI, e-governance and regional language platforms only increase this competition, setting the stage for a big tech battle across the Internet ecosystem in India.