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Business

Google offers more services, free Wi-Fi to expand in India

MUMBAI (NewsRise) - Google on Tuesday launched a host of services for India, including Google Stations that allow users to access free Wi-Fi in designated areas, as the Internet search giant seeks to lure more people to its platform in the world's second-most populous country.

Google is among the global Internet companies making a beeline to India, home to more than a billion mobile phone users, in a bid to sell their products. The company is already offering free Wi-Fi access in scores of Indian railways stations, setting the stage for more people to use its services and see more advertisements.

The company has been thinking about building products and services that work for any level of connectivity, in local Indian languages, and across the devices most frequently used in India, Caesar Sengupta, vice-president for Next Billion Users, said in a statement.

The launch of Google Station was inspired by the success of the company's existing partnership with RailTel and Indian Railways to provide Wi-Fi at more than 50 railway stations, he said.

Under Google Station, the company will roll-out Wi-Fi hot spots in places thronged by a large number of people, such as malls and transit stations, and in social hangout locations such as cafes and universities.

The other products Google rolled out in India include YouTube Go, an app that allows users to save videos for offline viewing, Google Assistant in Hindi language within the messaging app Allo, and faster browsing for Google Play on 2G connections.

India is an attractive market for global tech giants such as Google as rising disposable incomes, a relatively younger population, and a fast pace of roll-out of high-speed Internet services stir a boom in the proliferation of smartphones. Only a fifth of the mobile phone users in India have smartphones, offering huge room for the growth of such devices.

According to research firm Strategy Analytics, India will overtake the U.S. to become world's largest smartphone market after China by next year.

In July, Google started a program to train two million software developers in India on its Android mobile operating platform.

Like Google, Facebook too has been trying to lure more users on its network through free Internet services that gave people limited access to the web. But Google has a headstart over the social networking giant as India blocked Facebook's initiative called The Free Basics, also known as Internet.org, earlier this year, saying it gives discriminatory access to data services.

Among the other major Internet companies looking lure Indian users to their software and services ecosystem include Apple.

In May, Apple said it is opening an iOS operating system design and development center in the southern Indian city of Bangalore to provide support to local app developers and help improve their iOS software, providing personalized app reviews.

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