Facebook-WhatsApp deal: Google sees no threat

HYDERABAD: Google is not unduly worried about Facebook's acquisition of Whatsapp as it does not compete with them in the small and medium business segment, a top company official said. Google's vice-president and global head of SMBs, Allan Thygesen said the search engine giant was working on innovating solutions in messaging, among others, to help the businesses effectively engage with customers.

"I think that WhatsApp is a terrific example of new messaging services. And they have done a fantastic job creating utility that was great for the businesses and consumers," he said.

However, "in terms of acquiring new customers, it is not really as obvious how Whatsapp is useful. So, I am not worried about WhatsApp as a competitor to destabilising our presence or competitor for Adwords."

Social media company Facebook agreed to buy WhatsApp, a mobile sharing platform provider, for $19 billion (nearly Rs 1.2 lakh crore) in cash and stock, earlier this month.

Google's Thygesen, who was in Hyderabad on Wednesday, said the internet search giant is spending a lot of resources to bring about innovation in messaging, including Google Hangout where businesses could do video conferencing with multiple entities from their phone, desktop or laptop.

"We are making it available to companies at low cost as a competitive solution," Thygesen said. Google India, which currently has a customer base of 3 lakh SMBs, is targeting at least half a million over the next year or so.

Against 47 million SMBs in the country, the search engine giant sees the potential of getting online advertising from at least eight million. Only 7% of the Indian ad market is currently digital and the balance is distributed among print and electronic segments, against 30% online in developed economies such as the US and Britain.
Google India head of SMBs, K Suryanarayana said the Indian e-tailing market is projected to touch $16 billion (Rs 99,000 crore) by 2017 from $2.5 billion (Rs 15,500 crore) now, signifying a sizeable opportunity for his company.

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