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BW Businessworld

Under The Big Tent

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“Internet here feels like America in 1994,” said Google Chairman Eric Schmidt at a Google event in the capital. Schmidt, who is on his first visit to India said internet in India, is under-penetrated because of lack of adequate connectivity.

“Let me tell you a simple formula. Take fibre optic cables and run them into the ground everywhere the government can imagine. Every road, every ditch, every piece of land- bury fibre optic cables. These will amplify and scale in 20-30 years,” he says.

He also pointed that India was lagging behind exploiting the power of Internet because of the telecom industry which is under-capitalised and had failed to invest in high-speed networks.

Connectivity Is The Solution
For Schmidt, “connectivity” is the solution to India’s every problem be it education, health services or banking.

“Education would probably improve through mobile devices. Eventually the mobile applications will be more powerful as they are more personal,” says Schmidt. “You have a large underserved banking population. Through a very clever system involving a UID it will be possible for people to have a unique name tied to an e-commerce banking system,” he adds.

According to Schmidt, as in the last two years, mobile will continue to be the next big thing and that advertising, which is a key source of generating money for Google, will have to evolve around mobile advertising.

Read Also: Chrome, Android OS To Stay Separate: Google's Schmidt

“The future is tablets, the rumored Apple watch or Google Glass,” he said, adding that Google was focusing on mobile ads and that they will come at par with the rest of the ads in future. When asked if conversion rates might not be as good on mobile as on PC, he said PC growth was slowing anyway and that the conversion rate on mobile will be good.

“Google has showed that advertising can be a science as well as an art,” he says adding mobile too will be equally successful as it gives more information about the user.

Rubbishing rumours that he would be quitting Google, Schmidt said his plans of selling nearly 40 per cent stake in Google is only for asset diversification. “Google is my home,”

And Some More On Privacy...

Amid hearty laughs, Schmidt raised a serious concern over the issue of privacy that arises out of having too much information available over the internet. “I am concerned that we need to fight for our privacy or we’ll lose it. The reason why I am concerned about this is that it’s natural for such technology to aggregate information about citizens.” Citing a recent trip to Mexico, Schmidt said the situation where the government kept a close watch on all citizens to the extent that a dossier was available on each individual. While this is done in order to deal with the drug killings and other such real problems of the country, there are serious repercussions that could occur if the information is passed on to an irresponsible government, claims Schmidt.

With the inerasable memory of the Internet, Schmidt pointed out that a mistake is never forgotten. However he ended with a hopeful note, claiming that these were hurdles that would have to be dealt with through conversation, because the value of the internet is profoundly positive.