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Google bets on local languages to fuel Android’s growth in India

Google bets on local languages to fuel Android’s growth in India
Pedestrians walk past by the Google office in St Pancras in London, Britain, 27 June 2017. (Photo: EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA)

Google is adding more Indian languages to its services and seeking ways to make its Android smartphones cheaper, eager to win more users in the world’s most populous country.

The Alphabet Inc. unit is enabling more users in India to access its services with their local language, by either writing or using their voice, Sanjay Gupta, head of Google India, said on Tuesday. The company has been developing an artificial intelligence model that would be able to handle more than 100 Indian languages across speech and text, a drive that would widen internet access beyond the country’s urban English-speaking minority.

“To me, that’s the biggest investment that we’re making as Google,” Gupta told a news conference. “To enable this content revolution, is to enable every Indian to use the internet as deeply as English users did five years back.”

The company’s Android operating system dominates the Indian market, while Apple is making a push in more expensive smartphones. Google has made efforts to solidify its position in mass-market phones, launching affordable devices such as those through its partnership with billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio.

“We today have one of the lowest data costs in the country, but the next 300 million users will require a much cheaper smartphone,” Gupta said.

The South Asian nation’s internet economy is set to expand more than five-fold to about $1-trillion by 2030, according to a research report from Google, Temasek Holdings Pte and Bain & Co. That surge is expected to be driven by e-commerce, online travel bookings, food delivery and ride-hailing. DM


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