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Last Updated : Apr 11, 2018 02:43 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Google looks for partners in India to launch its smart home devices

Around 98 percent of all mobile phone owners in India currently use Android-based handsets, making it one of the most crucial markets for Google across the globe.

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Google is in talks with Indian companies to integrate its voice assistant service with their consumer durable products like refrigerators, lights, fans, air conditioners, heaters, etc.

According to a report by The Economic Times, the US-based tech giant is also in talks with Indian telecom providers to enable users to get the details of their bills through voice commands.

Having launched its Google Home voice-assisted Bluetooth speakers, the company is now focusing on partnering with mobile handset manufacturers in India, given the widespread adoption of its open-source operating system Android here.

 

Around 98 percent of all mobile phone owners in India currently use Android-based handsets, making it one of the most crucial markets for Google across the globe.

"India is an incredibly strategic market due to the high adoption of Android and the country is also among the fastest-growing markets for Google Assistant," said Rishi Chandra, Vice President - Product Management, and General Manager - Home Products, at Google.

Chandra said that Google recently brought the AoG (Action on Google) Platform to India. Telecom operators can use this platform to offer voice-based support services such as viewing of outstanding bills and monthly plan usage.

However, Google has not yet revealed the names of the companies it is likely to strike a deal with, and according to the company, it still needs around a year to join hands with either Indian or global firms who have shown interest in creating voice-activated products.

Chandra also said that once the products are ready, voice integration can be done via application programming interfaces in less than a week.

"You can imagine TV makers or set-top box providers want to have voice activation service so that consumers can change channels by voice commands, or even turning on the TV," he said, adding that while there could be many use-cases, it was still early days.

There is no denying that Google has its eyes on India and the proof of this is its planned introduction of Hindi for the upcoming product later this year.

"We’re going to work more and more with local Indian manufacturers for a lot of smart home devices. A lot of key appliances and devices in the home can be voice-activated… We’re making a big investment in India to work with partners in a fundamental way," Chandra said.

While Google is trying to put its best foot forward in India, it is facing tough competition from Amazon, which launched AI-powered smart speakers named Echo in October last year.

"The category of home devices is expanding. Amazon is strong on the selling side through their own platform, but Google faces a challenge in that (lack of a selling platform) as it has always faced," said Tarun Pathak, research director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research.

To challenge Amazon’s reach, Google has joined hands with e-commerce platform Flipkart, where it will sell its Home and Home Mini speakers exclusively. As for brick and mortar stores, Google will sell its products in over 750 retail stores, including Reliance Digital, Croma and Vijay Sales.
First Published on Apr 11, 2018 02:43 pm
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