Google has become the latest high-profile firm to back India’s Reliance Jio Platforms. The search giant is investing $4.5 billion for a 7.7% stake in the top Indian telecom network, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani said on Wednesday.
The investment today from Google is one of the rare instances where the Android-maker has joined its global rival Facebook in backing a firm. Facebook invested $5.7 billion in Reliance Jio Platforms, which has amassed over 400 million subscribers, in April this year for a 9.99% stake in it. Facebook is the largest minority stakeholder in Jio Platforms.
Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries (India’s most valued firm) has raised over $20.6 billion in the past four months from 13 investors by selling about 33% stake in the firm.
Google and Reliance Jio Platforms would work on a customized-version of Android operating system to serve the next hundreds of millions of users, said Ambani.
“Getting technology into the hand of more people is a big mission at Google,” said Sundar Pichai, chief executive at Google via a video chat on Wednesday.
The new deal further illustrates the opportunities foreign investors see in Jio Platforms that has upended the telecommunications market in India with cut-rate voice calls and mobile data tariffs.
Jio Platforms executives said users will be able to perform video calls and access more than two dozen apps while wearing the Jio Glass. No word on when Jio Platforms plans to make this available to consumers and what it would cost.
A person familiar with the matter at one of the 13 firms that has backed Reliance Jio Platforms said that the Indian firm is also enticing as globally companies are trying to cut down their reliance and exposure on China.
India, and the U.S., in recent months have taken actions to limit their reliance on Chinese firms. New Delhi last month banned 59 apps and services including TikTok that are developed by Chinese firms.