India, new battleground for GAFA

“The largest community of Facebook and WhatsApp users is in India. “ When asked why his company is investing in the subcontinent, Ajit Mohan, vice president and general manager of Facebook India, makes this simple observation. With 328 million monthly active users for Facebook and over 400 million for WhatsApp, India overtakes the United States. For its Instagram subsidiary, the country ranks second with around 100 million users.

There is “Another sign of the importance of India for Facebook”, adds Mr. Mohan: “It is the only country whose management reports directly to the headquarters of Menlo Park, California”, explains this former CEO of a large network of Indian cable channels, who studied in Singapore and the United States.

A country at the forefront

In India, Facebook wants to play the leading roles in video, in the digitization of SMEs, in payments … And the country is sometimes at the forefront, like a laboratory, prides himself Mr. Mohan: Reels, the new Video format launched by Instagram to counter its rival, TikTok, was deployed there very early and a massive online payment test is underway in WhatsApp.

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Above all, the company of Mark Zuckerberg has just struck the spirits by announcing the second largest acquisition in its history: in April, Facebook bought, for 5.7 billion euros, 9.9% of Jio Platforms, the portal created by the telephone operator Jio, which has won 400 million subscribers in four years. This subsidiary of the conglomerate Reliance Industries Limited, a leader in physical commerce, has taken on online sales with its JioMart platform. Facebook wants to help him associate the millions of Indian neighborhood businesses, called kiranas. “When they enter, you sometimes already see a green sign with a number to reach them on WhatsApp. We want to help them to be more visible online, to digitize their catalog and even to receive payments ”, explains Mohan.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Thinks Big

An eldorado, India? Facebook is not alone in thinking so. As of July, Google invested 4.5 billion dollars (3.8 billion euros) in… Jio Platforms. The goal : “Developing an entry-level smartphone”, with a Google universe adapted to the limited capacities of devices and networks. Present since 2004, Google has arguments: with 90% of the market share, its Android mobile operating system has more users in India than in the United States. The group is a leader in search engines, browsers with Chrome, cartography with Maps, video with YouTube and even online payment. Its CEO, Sundar Pichai, of Indian origin, thinks big: he announced in July that he wanted to invest ten billion dollars.

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