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August 26, 2014

New Races For New Digital Platforms

Posted by Suryaprakash K. (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:45 AM

In conversation with Asim Warsi from Samsung India  [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrIiWcvMRL0]

I was thinking about the waxing and waning of the digital technology sector's often-uneasy alliances the other day.

Look at what's happening in India. It is the single-most important and untapped market for consumer technology. And because of its sheer size, even a small percentage of the population doing something (like, say, purchasing a smartphone) is the equivalent of a far larger proportion of the population of just about any other country.

So it is with intense interest, that I've been following Google's latest campaign to market its new Android One telephone in India. Experts describe the move as ambitious. Because India is a challenging and a unique market for any enterprise, even the homegrown ones. And yet, if Google can make a go of it in India, I suspect the payoff would be huge.

Here's where Google's latest foray becomes interesting. One of the company's current alliances is with Samsung - perhaps its most effective Android partner globally. But according to some reports in the business press, there are some strains rippling right under the surface when it comes to the ongoing relationship between these two tech giants. Apparently, Google's strategy in India involves partnering with local technology firms to expand in a move that could conceivably take market share away from the Korea-based Samsung.

India is part of Samsung's vast, and familiar Asian turf. That's why Google, as large a global enterprise as it is, is partnering with it to help it navigate the market's complicated waters. Nobody ever said doing business in India, especially on a grand scale, is easy.

There's yet another aspect to the Google story that absolutely fascinates me. I'm enthralled by the company's long-term business strategy because of how it is able to seemingly peer into a crystal ball and see the emerging desires and expectations of the global marketplace. Along those lines is its US $1billion purchase of Twitch. This website/service is dedicated to streaming video games of other people. There is growing talk in the tech world that just as billions of people sit in front of a television screen every evening to watch their favorite shows, in the not-so-distant future, that same kind of audience could watch other people duke it out in the video game realm.

For years, Google and Samsung have had a very lucrative alliance. Remember the ancient saying that the enemy of my enemy is my friend? Well, when you throw Apple into this three-way mix, you can see why Google and Samsung have worked well together. But with the emergence of new platforms (Twitch is only part of the mix) and new, virtually untapped markets (like India), perhaps one of those three enterprises is seeing the limits of its past alliances and is instead concentrating on forging new ones.

Sources tell me that Google plans to spend 'several hundred million (U.S.) dollars' in its promotion and marketing of Android One in India beginning this fall. My hunch is that you will start to see new battle lines formed in the quest to bring digital technology to a fresh, young market.

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