Google continues its ever expanding worldwide footprint, this time with the announcement that it has joined forces with HostGator for a brand-new web hosting service in India. The two are teaming up to provide free website hosting to India’s small and mid-size businesses, complete with a free domain registration and website maintenance. If all goes according to plans, Google hopes to get more than 500,000 Indian businesses online within the next several years.
Businesses willing to sign on now will get a free website plus their domain registration and maintenance free for one year. Starting with the second year, each business will have to pay the standard rate for domain renewal and some maintenance services.
Google officials also point out that e-commerce is another opportunity for India, with potentially explosive growth in the future. They are willing to invest in free web hosting today with the hopes that their investments will pay off long-term. In the short-term, it will be a money-losing venture for Google.
The number of existing Indian businesses not yet online is different, depending on your source of information. Net4India’s Jasjit Sawhney stated in a recent Tech Circle interview that there are approximately 30 million small business enterprises in India, with less than half-a-million utilizing websites. Google thinks that number is highly inflated, estimating only about 8 million small businesses. Regardless, the fact that only 400,000 have a web presence means there is a wide-open market for anyone interested in investing in India.
According to published reports the Indian population has been estimated at 1.2 billion, making it the world’s third largest potential Internet market. If Google can tap into the market significantly, they stand a good chance of not only making a profit, but also dominating the future of the web in India.