Is the Google Bus taking a wrong route?
I love Google and use it everyday. I like my prospective mother in law as well and talk to her once a week (Ok, sometimes once a fortnight). But I don’t want both to be in a position to control my life too much. Now greedy Google, which has a dominant share of the Indian search and social networking market (and other products), is using an Indian bus to promote its brand.
Yesterday, Google India sent me a press release about their Google Bus which will be visiting an “Indian town near you, to give you a first hand experience of what the Internet has to offer you. The Internet Bus Project is an attempt to educate people about what the Internet is, and how it may be beneficial to their lives, by taking the Internet experience to them through a customised Internet-enabled bus, which will travel to several towns and cities across India.”
No mention in the press release about Google increasing its brand recognition and earning more Indian rupees. (Check out the big Google logo on the bus which screams this not a voluntary, charity effort to uplift the masses).
Not surprisingly, my colleagues in the newspapers published it as another ‘great initiate by the Google gods’. As far as the Indian media are concerned, Google is the best employer in the world because they pay huge salaries, have comfortable offices and offer free food and massages for employees. We journalists are paid a pittance and work in pigeon holes and so are mesmerized by the Google magic. We journalists see ourselves as beggars on the road as the swish, air conditioned Google bus zips by. Perhaps the Google bus driver gets paid more than the paltry compensation of Rs. 750 for 250 words paid by goss websites like techgoss.
The idea of the Google bus is right but the implementation is wrong. Indian States in the East like Assam, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir as well as Bihar have poor internet connections and a low awareness about the advantages of the internet. Indian States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi and many others are wired well on to the net.
Tamil Nadu, like Kerala, has a rich culture of educating boys as well as girls.
So where does the Google bus go? It meanders around literate Tamil Nadu to in their words: “aiming to reach out to people with limited knowledge and exposure to the Internet.”
Someone forgot to tell Google that a large part of the specialized tech staff at Microsoft, Oracle, Yahoo, Google themselves and other tech companies are from Tamil Nadu. And that most families in this State are hooked on the net.
On the other hand Tamil Nadu is close to Karnataka, the State where thuggish goons attacked innocent girls having a meal and a drink at a pub, in Mangalore. So perhaps Google is well advised not to have a photo of its sexy, attractive, search engine boss Marissa Mayer in the bus. We want the goons from Mangalore, who fled across the border, to concentrate on the internet rather than Marissa’s big beautiful eyes, striking features and other assets.
I would have preferred if the Google bus had started its journey from Assam and then made it ways to Jammu and Kashmir. On second thoughts, it may not be such a good idea. With the poverty and anti-Government feelings in some sections of these States the Google bus would have its tires stolen at overnight stops in Bihar. In UP, Mayawati supporters will not think twice of hijacking the Google bus to ferry ‘supporters’ to a Government rally. Dodging mines and sniper fire in Kashmir would have met Google objectives of: “the focus of the bus in on four themes -- information, communication, entertainment and education, the Internet.” The problems in Kashmir can be resolved with more information and communication.
The battle in Kashmir can be likened to the Google/Yahoo struggle for supremacy in India. Both the antagonists are well trained, well armed and have support from overseas. Any obstacles faced by the Google bus in Kashmir could be caused by militants as well as the Yahoo management in India.
If Google can do something in India, Yahoo will match it. Expect a Yahoo autorickshaw shadowing the Google bus to ‘educate’ Indians on how it is better. And if Google and Yahoo can do something, local search engine Guruji will compete against them. Don’t be surprised if you see a couple of Guruji managers on a Bullet motorcycle chasing the Google Bus and Yahoo Autorickshaw.
Techgoss note: Techgirl is a senior Tech journalist who reports on the IT, KPO and KPO Sectors for a leading media house. In her spare time, she dabbles in satire in her blog http://techgirltalk.blogspot.com