In 11 years at Google, Sundar Pichai has risen to becoming the company’s CEO and one of the most powerful people in the technology industry. However, this also meant that he usurped some brilliant people at Google on his journey to becoming Larry Page’s right-hand man. He achieved this on the back of being a brilliant engineer. Known to be business savvy, he is also considered a superlative man manager.
On Wednesday, he was back in New Delhi, giving a keynote at an event named Google for India. In his first visit to India after he took over as CEO, the Chennai-born laid down Google’s vision for the country of his birth. Here are a few takeaways from the event:
1. Google has big plans for India. It realises that India is home to some of the best engineering talent in the world. It wants to hire as many engineers from India as it can for which it will build a massive new campus in Hyderabad. The company is also launching a programme to train 2 million developers on its Android platform over the next three years through a partnership with the National Skill Development Corporation of India.
2. With Google being locked out of China, India, by default, becomes the biggest market for Google. Pichai minced no words about this and said that India will have more Android users in 2016 than even the US. Google is focusing on multiple India-centric applications and solutions.
For instance, a new feature called Tap to Translate will debut next year helping people translate Hindi messages or any other text into English, and vice versa, with a tap. Besides Hindi, this feature would be available in other local Indian languages, too. For India, Google Search apps will also give out real-time cricket scores in 2016.
3. Access and connectivity seemed like a priority for Pichai. He said that Google was working with the government to launch Project Loon balloons for Internet connectivity in rural parts of India.
Additionally, it already ran a pilot programme to educate women on how to use the Internet. and now this will go full-scale . Now this programme will go full-scale and will expand across 300,000 village in a span of three years. Pichai also announced that by the end of 2016 there will be 100 railway stations with free wi-fi in India that will be able to deliver fast internet where the user can even stream high definition (HD) videos.
The first of these will be Mumbai central which will be ready by January 2016.
4. Google is already doing a lot of India-specific work. It is building Chrome as a platform which allows developers to build light mobile websites that work like apps. Google showed the Flipkart website as an example of this. It also displayed what kind of compression technology it possesses by which, in some case, it has managed to increase the speed of page load times by 4 times and has also reduced data consumption.
It also claims that the latest version of Android has built in support for 11 Indic languages out of a total of 74. Even now, Google Maps supports offline maps, and this comes after the company added a similar capability to YouTube last year.
In the presentation, which focused on Map Maker, it was revealed how the service was built by two engineers out of Google’s Bangalore office and now it is used as one of the core foundations of Google Maps.
5. Sundar Pichai is known to be a humble guy who listens to everyone and isn’t a polarising figure. One got the feeling that Google under Pichai will echo his personality. Each and every executive was thanking India.
Pichai ended his keynote by saying, “This country has given me and Google so much that we hope we can give back much more.”