Google’s Local Mantra To Woo India’s Mobile Users
From Google Hangouts to Google Now, and now voice-based search specially customized for the Indian population. It seems the company is going all out to woo India’s burgeoning online population.
Sandeep Menon, Head of Marketing, Google India says, “We’re delighted to showcase the improvements we’ve made to search for Indian users. These features demonstrate Google’s commitment to India and to continually improving Indian users’ search experience.”
Voice has always been the most natural way to interact with a phone, as speaking is typically faster and easier than typing, asserts Google. In order to localize its voice search for Indian users, Google has worked with over 700 volunteers in the country, collecting samples of different dialects and English accents used across various regions. The volunteers were asked to read popular search queries in a variety of acoustic conditions like restaurants, out on busy streets and inside cars to localize the app for different kind of users.
The company is clearly trying its best to tap the increasing population of internet users in India. Statistics show that India will have 300 million users by 2014, and will surpass the US (currently estimated to have around 250 million users). And with mobile becoming popular even in the remotest locations, the usage is only going to grow further.
However, while Google’s other products like search, email, YouTube, maps and browser (Chrome) have been successful in their respective segments, its more recent offerings like Google + have not done so well. According to ComScore data, Google Plus users spend an average of 3 minutes per month on the site, where as Facebook users average 405 minutes a month. Google also claims that monthly traffic is 100 million, which could be also because it includes visitors to other Google Plus enhanced sites.
Although voice recognition as a technology is not new, it has not been adopted on a mass scale so far. In fact, the initial experiences with voice based systems have shown that despite all accent training and modulation, these systems could prove more tedious and erroneous in comparison with simply typing text.
However, many experts believe that even though earlier voice-based systems didn’t gain so much in popularity, the timing could now be just right for localized voice search. Apart from the rapid growth in mobile users, we are also witnessing a shift in consumer habits and growing familiarity with smarter technologies.
According to e-marketer, “mobile internet users reach for their devices to route their trip home, read reviews of local restaurants and find the location of a nearby business. And as more consumers convert to smartphones and tablets, the number of local searches is rising fast.”
Going by these trends, Google might just prove right in its belief that all future internet search will be driven through mobile devices and voice will be the most popular user interface of the future.
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