With the announcement that the search giant is planning to invest $10 billion in the Indian market over the next five years, Google is likely to have an impact on companies large and small.

Digital services are increasingly key to India, with digitisation helping small business owners to enter the formal economy, improving access to credit. Meanwhile, the widespread adoption of smartphones in cities, and just as importantly, in rural areas.

“India’s own digital journey is far from complete. There’s still more work to do,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai in an online speech this week, which you can find here, in which the executive outlined the shape of the firm’s investment strategy.

Noting the challenge facing the world, and with particular acuteness, India, Pichai added that times of great challenge “can lead to incredible moments of innovation. Our goal is to ensure India not only benefits from the next wave of innovation, but leads it.”

“Today, I’m excited to announce the Google for India Digitization Fund. Through this effort, we will invest ₹75,000 crore, or approximately $10 billion, into India over the next 5-7 years.”

“We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments.”

These will have four areas of focus:

  • Enabling access to information “for every Indian in their own language.”
  • Building products and services relevant to India’s unique needs.
  • Helping businesses in their digital transformation.
  • “Leveraging technology and AI for social good, in areas like health, education, and agriculture.”

However, much of the focus on Pichai’s announcement has speculated on Google’s appetite for some of India’s largest firms. In particular, according to the Economic Times, Facebook’s recent $5.7 billion investment in Reliance Jio (during a major funding round) has raised questions about an arms race for the digital economy of the world’s largest democracy.

The news follows reports that Google had been in talks to buy a stake in Vodafone India, just as Amazon was said to be eyeing an investment in Bharti Airtel as part of a scramble to chase the growth in India’s booming telecoms market.

Sourced from Google, Economic Times, TechCrunch