Popular Android app ‘Where is my Train’, which offers several ways to track locations of trains on Indian railways (world’s third largest railway network), has been acquired by Google. The same was announced by the company on their website. While the deal size is unknown, Economic Times claims it to be in the vicinity of $30-$40 Million.
The acquisition is a part of Google’s continued, concerted effort to target India’s rapidly evolving internet ecosystem. Google calls it the ‘Next Billion Users’ initiative, and the same received major push under Sundar Pichai’s regime. To date, the initiatve has focused strongly on India where Google has developed data-friendly ‘lite’ versions of popular apps like YouTube, and initiatives like public WiFi for India’s rail network that’s used by over eight million people.
‘Where is my Train’ currently serves only on Android and claims to have over 10 Million registered users. It also works offline and in areas of poor connectivity and is offered in 8 languages. Rivals include some heavily-backed players like RailYatri and iXigo, both of whom have raised sizeable VC money and spend extensively on promotional marketing.
Talking about the acquisition, Sigmoid Labs — the company that owns and operates this app, said,
We’re excited to share that Sigmoid Labs, the team behind the “Where is my train” app, is joining Google. We can think of no better place to help us achieve our mission, and we’re excited to join Google to help bring technology and information into more people’s hands.
Google has been pushing hard to increase consumer adaption in India’s emerging Internet class, as millions of new users continue to migrate from standard phones to smartphones with 4G connections. And Google wants to be the front-runner in what these users interact first with.
The acquisition also means a possible expansion of Google’s current offerings. ‘Where is my Train’ looks like an easy integration for Google Maps, and the app’s 10 Million+strong userbase only justifies that point. Other conjecture-driven thoughts could be availability of Google Pay on the go, for commuters of the Indian railways.