Google (www.google.com) announced on Wednesday that it will offer free websites to small and medium businesses in India, according to a report by Reuters. Google has partnered with web hosting firm HostGator (www.hostgator.com) to provide free domain names and one-year of website maintenance as well. After the first year, businesses will be required to pay a nominal fee to renew their domain name, according to the report.
With this initiative, Google aims to get half a million of these businesses online in the next three years.
According to the report, India is the second biggest mobile phone market with about 870 million users, but Internet usage is much lower. Only about 100 million people use the Internet in India, although the population of the country, about 1.2 billion, makes it the world’s third largest Internet user market.
This news comes on the heels of a TechCircle interview with web host Net4India (www.net4.in) CMD Jasjit Sawhney, in which he claims that of the approximately 30 million small businesses in India, only about 400,000 of them have websites. Sawhney says business email and email hosting has an even lower level of penetration, identifying a key market for service providers to offer to Indian businesses.
Google says that the number of small businesses in India is actually closer to 8 million. In a presentation on Wednesday, Google also pointed towards e-commerce as an opportunity for future business in India.
According to the report, Google is making significant investments in the free hosting initiative but has no near-term revenue expectations from it.