Home > From the tavern: Innovation stories and opinions > Internet Bus Takes Olympics to Villagers

Internet Bus Takes Olympics to Villagers

The recent London Olympics produced champions, new world records, rising athletes and overall spirit of sportsmanship that the world could cheer along with. The Olympics also brought a new leash of joy for villagers from several cities in remote areas of northern India to follow the games and cheer for local athletes, thanks to Google India’s effort to launch the “Internet Bus” tour to spread awareness about the Games to villages and towns.

The bus known as the ‘You Tube bus for Olympics’, a joint partnership between Google and its video-sharing subsidiary YouTube, offered computers, high definition live streaming and archived event feeds, to allow poor villagers to overcome the lack of internet access or televisions with cable or satellite services. In addition, the bus covered cities in which the athletes participating in the Olympics belonged to. This was also seen as an initiative to popularize viewership of the Olympic Games and gather more support for the athletes from their hometowns.

The localized community-service oriented effort is an innovative marketing approach by Google within several folds in the business-to-community space:

i)                    Merging technological feasibility with a bus, a common transportation mode to access difficult-to-reach areas;

ii)                   Combining investment in the use of internet (product) with an initiative to gather more support for Indian athletes and Olympics in general (sustainable social development);

iii)                 Free and  on-the-go offering in untapped markets, whilst further creating awareness and educating people on the use of internet;

iv)                 Branding internet, particularly YouTube as the infotainment go-to platform to popularize major live events instead of traditional satellite or cable network based televisions

Incidentally, Google had teamed up with BSNL, large state-owned internet service provider to hit the road with its first “internet bus” in February 2009, which had toured into several states and cities in India, where literacy rate is poor and computer literacy is poorer, bringing a totally new experience and interface to the use and benefits of internet. The effort was aimed at showcasing the usefulness of the internet to students, teachers, government and business community, whilst enabling the common man to utilize the power of knowledge and information for economic prosperity.

An estimated 1.6 million people had been offered their first online experience as a result. Of those, 100,000 had signed up for an internet connection of their own. Google predicted the number of users in India to triple over the next three years.

Google is undoubtedly in the driver seat of its innovative internet bus to penetrate untapped areas. Their efforts will inevitably increase awareness and a greater adoption of internet use. In addition, this allows Google to gain a better understanding of the rural needs and in turn, develop suitable products for the potentially huge local emerging market in a developing country such as India.

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