Google Shutters Its Voice Search Services In India

December 22, 2010 0

Bangalore, India — India is one of the emerging country and so is the technology of the nation. It has established a substantial niche for itself on the global map for its advancement in information technology sector but that did not help it ward off Google’s closure of its voice search experiment in India, which puts a question mark on the viability of search through automated voice responses.

Google Voice Search, as the moniker indicates, is Google’s voice-based search tool, which was introduced in India in 2008 across Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, which utilize voice commands to search a given query.

Adopting Google Search, users could effortlessly search for the nearest restaurants, food courts, movie theaters, gyms, shopping malls and much more directly from their mobile phones. This is more or less a voice-based imitation of the Google SMS search services that are still active in India and elsewhere.

Vinay Goel, Products Head, Google India, said, “The experiment was wound up as we did not achieve scale and viability. This experiment helped us learn more about user needs and build core technologies.”

Due to the lack of customer interest in the technology and especially due to the delayed response from the consumers have led to its inevitable slice-out from the Indian Markets. In fact, analysts believe that it would be easier and cheaper to get an agent respond to the call rather than the technology. VC firm Canaan Partners India MD Alok Mittal states that it costs about Rs 2-3 per minute to have an agent answer a call. “A sales lead through local search can get you Rs 40-50, which far outweighs the cost of an agent.”

Google’s experiment was started in 2008 across Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore. Google Voice Search India could be reached at 1-800-4199-9999 where callers would ask for the query term and the system would then send the most certain options over SMS to the caller for free. For instance, one could ask for “Paradise Biryani” in Hyderabad and the system would guide you to the top options, which are then SMSed.

However, a delay in response time and poor understanding of the search request, might have led to the failure of the business. For most of the people in India, text search is the patent norm and they refuse to move away to newer technologies, perhaps, for the fear of adapting the “new” or for the fact that they are comfortable with what they have been doing for years — text search and maybe that is why they do not want to make a switch.

While the search engine giant Google has been keenly engaged with its voice search experiment, business for India’s local search sites have seen a spurt over the last two years. While niche search websites have cropped up, they provide text search listing. Voice response has still not caught on in the search business, yet.

“We never wanted to be in the call center hiring kind of model,” Goel of Google said, explaining the shutdown.

So, maybe in the near future, Google Voice Search India may appear again and become as popular as it is in US and elsewhere but there was no official word from Google to ascertain this.