Google just announced a new initiative on its official India blog, dubbed India Get Your Business Online, offering a free one year top-level domain (TLD) registration and website hosting services to small indian businesses to launch a website.
The hosting is being provided by Houston-based Web host HostGator, which will also offer “free support in creating, hosting and managing the website for a period of one year without any cost through its toll free call centres”.
The TLD will be a ‘.in’ domain name and the whole process of selecting a domain name, signing up for it and then building and launching the website has been greatly simplified. After the first year is up, the website owners will have the option to renew their domain name and hosting on a paid basis or cancel the service.
Participants in the program will also get access to free email addresses through Google Apps and a free Google AdWords coupon worth ₹ 2,500 ($51) to get started with promoting their website on Google’s advertising network.
Google says that, of an estimated 8 million small business in India, only about 400,000 have an online presence. The company hopes to help about half a million more of these business get up and running with a website within the next three years.
To that end, it is also partnering with the Federation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (FISME), which is a non-profit that will “help SMBs get online through direct customer outreach and events”.
How does Google stand to benefit from it? We assume that Google sees the opportunity to get more businesses onto paid tiers of its Google Apps offering and addition of members to its AdWords campaign as more people start taking their businesses online.
It also stands to gain from the addition of data to its Maps database and from an influx of new businesses making use of other Google properties like Google Docs and from the general spread of Internet use in India, which is something Google has actively been trying to promote with other ongoing initiatives like the Internet Bus.
HostGator could also see direct benefit from this offering, with the higher visibility that an association with Google brings to its brand. The free hosting solution can also act like a gateway drug for new business owners, who may choose to start paying to continue hosting their websites with the company once the first year is up. It sure looks like a win-win situation for all parties involved.