Google’ll Feed You Content, Make You Smart at Home
Bengaluru: Google is preparing to launch its personalised content service, Google Feed, as well as its smart speaker and assistant Google Home in India, as the internet giant doubles down on efforts to reach more users in the country.
A Google executive confirmed that the company will bring its Google feed service to India shortly. As for Google Home, three people aware of the company’s plans said the smart speaker is likely to be launched here next year. “India is super high priority for us. It’s difficult to say exactly how soon, but we want to get Google Feed to India soon,” said Shashidhar Thakur, vice president of Google Search, during an interaction with ET at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. “We are also putting quite a bit of energy into Google Search’s language diversity needs in India, focusing on 20-odd Indian languages,” he said.
In July, Google released a personalised news feed for phones that would throw up a stream of content for users, based on location, search history and topics they have selected. The company also plans to introduce a ‘new-to-you’ feature in the feed this year, which will list out links to a user’s favourite topics and help him/her take a deeper dive into a particular subject. According to Thakur, another area for investment for Google in India is local content. There are various challenges in India given the country’s wide variety of regional languages.“There are different ways to write ‘Virendra’ in the Devanagari script and Hindi script. Building these kinds of aspects into our algorithms is a challenge. Investing in these aspects will ultimately improve the feed experience too,” said Thakur.
In the meantime, Google has replicated interest-specific learnings from India in other markets such as South Africa, Australia and the United Kingdom. With Google Home too, the company will explore the use of select regional languages, according to the people aware of the company’s plans. “Hindi and Tamil are some of the languages that Google will test out for Google Home. Ultimately, Google Home will aim to be an Indian household’s go-to source for booking a cab, setting reminders, playing music, turning off the lights and so on,” one of them, an analyst, said. ET recently reported that Amazon plans to launch its voice-based assistant Alexa through its speaker Echo in India this year, and was testing local languages for this.
Analysts estimate that Google Home will launch shortly after Ama- zon’s Alexa. “India is a key market for both the companies to test out how well their products will take off among the upper and upper-middle class sections,” said the analyst quoted above. “So they may experiment with offering deals in terms of pricing. But for now, Google will focus on becoming stronger with Indian languages and understanding local content needs.” ( The reporter was in San Franci
sco at the invitation of Google)