Google Home Officially Arrives in India Without Hindi, Amazon Echo Goes on Sale
Google Home officially went on sale today in India on Flipkart and in 750 retail locations. Google Home is listed at INR 9,999 (~US$154) and Google Home Mini is selling for INR 4,499 (~US$69). Estimated delivery time is 3-4 days.
The pricing is identical to Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices in India. In the U.S., list pricing and discounting for Google Home Mini and Echo Dot correlate closely. However, Google Home is typically priced about 30% higher than the 2nd Generation Amazon Echo. This makes the price matching at INR 9,999 notable. Then again, all four devices carry higher price tags in India than comparable models in the U.S. This may represent a discounting opportunity for Amazon as it could reduce pricing on Echo by one-third and still sell it at a price above the U.S. listing.
Free Music Streaming Services but No Google Home Hindi Support Yet
The devices come with free subscriptions to music streaming services Gaana and Saavn through October 31st. After that, the services are respectively offering 1.5 and one year subscription extensions for only one rupee. This is a significant benefit since music listening is the most used feature of smart speakers according to a recent Voicebot survey of U.S. device owners. It doesn’t appear that these services have a comparable discount for Amazon Echo buyers. Saavn is available on Echo alongside Amazon Prime Music, but Gaana is not.
Google Home may have strong music options, but it will not ship with Hindi language support to start. Amazon Echo does not support Hindi today either, but does claim some Hinglish support. Rishi Chandra, Vice President of Product Management and General Manager of Home Products at Google commented to reporters:
We will launch Hindi language support later this year so that users can choose the language they are comfortable with. Both the devices understand Indian accents and will respond with uniquely ‘desi’ contexts.
Amazon Offers Multi-Device Discounts In India
As Amazon often does in the U.S. and Europe in the face of new Google product launches, the company today has discounts for both Echo and Dot devices. The discount is INR 3,000 when buying two Amazon Echo and INR 1,000 when purchasing two Dots. Amazon first launched Echo in India in October 2017, but was available by invitation-only. In February 2018, the company officially launched the Echo product line with general availability. The invitation-only launch was described by people familiar with the matter as a defensive move. Alexa’s natural language processing (NLP) for Indian English still needed work but the company did not want to trail Google for market entry. The limited launch helped them get into India first at an appropriate scale while engineers continued to improve the NLP. One thing Amazon didn’t lack upon launching Echo in India was Alexa skills. More than 10,000 localized and English language Alexa skills from the U.S. and U.K. were available to the earliest Echo buyers.
Google surprised the company by not launching in India in October and waiting until today to make Google Home available. However, Google has been meticulously laying groundwork for today’s launch with the release of Google Assistant for India and support for several smartphone and feature phone models. The addition of Hindi will likely further set Google Home apart unless Amazon can match that functionality in the meantime.