Even as Amazon boss Jeff Bezos – and his three compatriots from Apple, Facebook and Google – prepare for the congressional hearing, the giant octopus that is Amazon is continuing its Indian campaign.
Not so long ago there was the widely reported rumour that the company was looking at a $2 billion investment in mobile company Bharti Airtel, which, at the time, looked as if it was buying into ‘something’ in India. This tactic was after having been outflanked by a string of companies such as Google, Facebook and some investment funds who were piling money into Jio. Airtel merely said that there was no proposal under consideration.
Now, Amazon has found a way to join the band of brothers investing in the Jio brand by adding to its already considerable investment in India, with a stake in Reliance Retail, who is, in turn, a key investor in JioMart. Reliance Retail operates 10,000 stores across 6,700 cities.
At the beginning of the year, Mr Bezos was in India promoting a billion-dollar fund to help small businesses (get into e-commerce and therefore use Amazon as their distributor). More recently, the company announced it was hiring 50,000 temporary workers to meet the demand created by the coronavirus.
On the face of it, it is curious why India and Jio, in particular, is attracting so much attention from the ‘big boys’. Of course, India’s economy – even given the difficult times and the growing friction with China – is growing at a very decent rate and, more importantly, Reliance Jio is the kind of ‘telco’ that is the model for success at the moment.
Some years ago, our own Tony Poulos predicted that telcos with legacy systems to deal with and transform would have a lasting disadvantage. And Reliance Jio started from scratch, has become the company to beat. And now join.
While China and Chinese companies face mounting pressure from the ever-increasing international hurdles being thrown up around the world, India is going online and adopting e-commerce at a breath-taking rate.
No wonder companies such as Amazon are piling in, even as the US Congress prepares to take them down a peg or two.
Whether that actually happens we will wait to see – very soon.