New Delhi, July 21 : Strategic partners in Jio Platforms, Facebook and Google will be inducted on the board of the company. While Facebook is the largest strategic investor in Jio Platforms with 9.9 per cent stake, Google acquired a 7.73 per cent stake in Jio Platforms (JPL) by investing $4.49 billion at valuation of $58.9 billion.
The Google investment is from the committed $10 billion fund for India. The Facebook entry is to Jio Mart and WhatsApp with its subscriber base of 350 million. On the other hand, Google is looking to leverage Jio’s strength at the entry level smart phone because Google Pixel is not a mass market phone.
Google announced in a blog that it is extending a new capability to the millions of Google Assistant users on KaiOS devices in India. Google has introduced Google Lens camera-based translation abilities to KaiOS users in India. The KaiOS software runs on popular phones like the Jio Phone and Jio Phone 2 in the country. From Assistant, they can click the camera icon to simply point their phone at real-world text (like a product label, street sign, or document, for example,) and have it read back in their preferred language, translated, or defined.
Google Assistant has made it easy for users in India to find answers and get things done on their devices using their voice. “Since its launch at Google for India in 2017, Google said it has worked hard to bring more helpful features like integrated voice typing on KaiOS, voice-based language selection, and support for Indian languages to help first-time internet users overcome barriers to literacy and interact with technology and their devices more naturally. In 2019, Google brought camera based translation to Google Lens to help users understand information.
“With Lens, you can point your camera at text you see and translate it into more than 100 languages. Lens can even speak the words out loud in your preferred language. We brought these Lens capabilities to Google Go, too, so even those on the most affordable smartphones can access them”, Google said.
“In India, our rich diversity of languages presents an exciting challenge especially in the context of millions of new users coming online every day. Nine out of ten of these new users are non-English speakers. While many would be fluent at speaking and understanding their native language, there are others who might struggle when it comes to reading and writing it”, Google said.
Facebook and Google both are now investors in Jio which indicates that both have non-overlapping commercial arrangements with Jio. According to a research report by BofA Securities, “We note that Google and Facebook are competitors in India with both controlling 80 per cent plus of the digital ad market in India. They also compete in other markets like commerce, payments”, the research said.
Both taking minority interest in JPL indicates that both have non-overlapping commercial arrangements with Jio, both are focused on non-competing partnerships and both see value and opportunities to co-exist. The research said that the Google-Jio partnership focuses on digitization across the length and breadth of India, JPL and Google has also entered into a commercial agreement to jointly develop an entry level affordable smartphone with optimizations to the Android operating system and the Play Store.
“We note that Jio’s 4G feature phone on KaiOS ecosystem has 120 million users. An affordable 4G and 5G smartphone would help both. Developing an Android 5G app ecosystem focused on emerging markets would also could be an area of focus for Google from medium-term perspective”, the research said.
The research report said that on the other hand, Facebook’s partnership with Jio focuses on integrating JioMart app inside WhatsApp. WhatsApp has also entered into a commercial partnership agreement with Reliance Retail to further accelerate its online commerce business, FB could improve traction of its “Facebook marketplace” by leveraging JPL’s feet on the street team as it could help remove the merchant friction with tech, the report said.
“We expect Jio overtime to have access to 500 million mobile users, 20 million households and 10 million SMEs. Furthermore RIL has also India’s biggest physical retail stores. Such a wide reach of users and merchants allows RIL to have clear and demarcated non-overlapping partnerships with each of them”, the report said.