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Google chief Pichai bats for $30 entry-level smartphones in India

Google chief Pichai bats for $30 entry-level smartphones in India

KHARAGPUR, Jan 5 (PTI): Google chief Sundar Pichai on Thursday said the prices of entry-level smartphones in India need to come down further to around USD 30 to improve people’s access to the Internet and digital services.

Pichai, who was speaking at IIT-Kharagpur, said the focus was also on areas such as local language support and improving connectivity in India.

“I would love to see cheaper smartphones, entry-level smartphones. I think really we need to bring the prices down even more, maybe at USD 30 level,” he told an audience of 3,500 students and teachers.

Google was able to roll out many programmes for ’Digital India’ through “effective public-private partnerships," he said, citing examples such as partnership with RailTel for offering Wi-Fi services at railway stations and with the NPCI for digital payments.

 

’India will be a global player in digital economy’

Pichai said he was confident that India would be a global player in digital economy. “I think I am absolutely, with full certainty, convinced that India will be a global player in digital economy and it will be competitive with any country in the world in the digital economy. We have all the foundation."

Connectivity was “extraordinarily important.” Google was working on a number of projects such as ’Internet Saathi’ to educate people on Internet, especially in rural areas, as well as to get them online. Google was working on making its services available in as many local Indian languages as possible.

“English is spoken only by a small segment of the overall population. So just getting Google to work in other languages is a big focus. We have made progress today in Android, with search, we support many languages but we want to do all that better so that it works even in rural situations with the right dialects and so on,” he said.

 

Bets big on AI, machine learning

Technologies lsuch as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can make huge difference to everyday life and Google was investing in bringing these to “as many people and as fast as possible”, he said.

“We are making a big bet on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Advancements in machine learning will make a big difference in many many fields,” Pichai said in an interaction with students at IIT Kharagpur.

He pointed out that the ability of computers to do tasks such as image recognition, voice recognition or speech recognition, are reaching a tipping point.

“So, we are definitely at a point of inflection,” he said, adding that Google iwas investing a lot in this space and if the investments were sustained over a few years, it would pave the way for the next wave of computing.

Pointing out to a paper published by Google recently, Mr. Pichai said machine learning could be used to detect diabetic retina, which can cause blindness if treatment isn’t administered on time.

“This is an early example of the kind of changes that will happen when you apply machine learning to all kinds of fields. Google alone won’t do this. What I am excited about is bringing machine learning and AI to as many people and as fast as possible,” he said.

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