Google Home smart speaker launches in India, joining Amazon Echo

Key Points
  • Google Home will be priced at 9,999 rupees ($153.78), while the Google Home Mini will be 4,499.
  • Google Home understands Indian accents and will respond with "uniquely Indian contexts."
Google Home
Source: Google

Google has launched its smart speaker products Google Home and Google Home Mini in India, following Amazon into one of the world's most promising markets for technology.

The devices are equipped with Google Assistant, the search giant's digital voice assistant, which is activated when a user says "OK, Google" or "Hey, Google."

Google Home understands Indian accents and will respond with "uniquely Indian contexts," the company said in a blog post Tuesday.

Users can ask the devices for the latest news stories from sources such as The Times of India or NDTV, or get some recipe ideas. Other commands include playing music or asking questions.

Google Home will be priced at 9,999 rupees ($153.78), while the Mini will be 4,499 rupees. The Google Home is $129 in the U.S.

While Google Assistant will understand English spoken in Indian accents, an update scheduled for later this year will see it be able to respond to Hindi, the national language of India.

Last year, Amazon launched its rival product, the Amazon Echo, in India. The Echo has Amazon's voice assistant called Alexa built in. It understands English spoken in an Indian accent, but can also make sense of some sentences that include words in various languages spoken in India, such as Hindi or Pubjabi. The Amazon Echo is priced at 9,999 rupees in India.

The world's largest democracy is seen as a key market for U.S. technology giants to expand into. Amazon has invested several billion dollars in the country, and is even reportedly considering a bid for Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart. Apple, meanwhile, began manufacturing some devices in India last year.

Google has also been trying to push its services in India, where its Android mobile operating system is the dominant player, in a market that favors cheap smartphones. But it has also run into some issues with regulators. The country's antitrust watchdog recently fined Google 1.36 billion rupees ($21.17 million) for "search bias" and abuse of its dominant position. Google filed an appeal against the ruling on Monday.

The Google Home devices will be sold online exclusively via Flipkart and in over 750 retail stores across the country. And to make it more appealing versus the Amazon Echo, Google said that when a user buys the device via Flipkart, they can receive a free JioFi router and special offers on streaming music subscriptions. When buying from a store run by mobile operator Reliance, users can get a free router and 100 gigabytes of 4G data worth 2,499 rupees.