clock menu more-arrow no yes

Jeff Bezos just promised to pour $3 billion more into Amazon India

Amazon smells blood.

Jeff Bezos (R) with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Mark Wilson / Getty

Jeff Bezos smells blood.

As Amazon's two big India competitors struggle to raise funds at current valuations and keep their executive ranks stable, Amazon is going on the offensive.

The company's founder and CEO announced Tuesday evening that Amazon will pour $3 billion more into its India operations. Bezos previously announced a $2 billion investment in the summer of 2014.

The exact amount of the investment isn't really important. It's what it represents: That Bezos considers India the most crucial international market over the long term and he'll go to great lengths to see it succeed.

Amazon's India rivals, Flipkart and Snapdeal, have already witnessed this firsthand since Amazon launched its India site in 2013. But it is a confirmation that Amazon is not going away.

India is still a challenging market for all involved. Most online shoppers in the country still choose where to shop online strictly based on prices. That has led to steep discounting by e-commerce sites, which no one thinks can work as a long-term strategy. The challenge for Amazon and the others is to figure out how to stand out in other ways.

The India e-commerce market today is also relatively tiny, at about one-tenth the size of the U.S.'s depending on which estimate you trust. But the country is the second-most populous in the world, and a steep rise in smartphone users is leading to large increases in online shopping.

Success in India for Amazon is critical for another reason: To date, it has mostly failed in China. Bezos confirmed as much when he answered my question from the audience at our recent Code Conference.

The CEO noted Amazon's "two completely different results" in China and India — "Thank God!" he said — and offered one high-level reason for the varying outcomes.

"We mostly tried to roll out what worked well for us in Japan, Germany, the U.K., Spain, France, Italy, the U.S., et cetera, and it needed more local market customization," he said of the company's approach in China. "If you want me to give one meta-lesson, it's that one."

Here's the full interview with Walt Mossberg. My question about India is toward the end, about 1 hour and 11 minutes in.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.