Google WizPhone is a Feature Phone for Indonesia with Google Assistant – Here is Why This Matters
Google last week announced WizPhone for Indonesia. Wizphone is a feature phone priced at a U.S. dollar equivalent of $6.81. Google refers to this as the less than US $10 price range. This normally wouldn’t be news of interest to the voice community, but WizPhone is a feature phone with Google Assistant access. Google is often quoted as focusing on reaching the next billion consumers. Many of those consumers don’t have internet access at home nor do they own smartphones. However, the low-priced feature phones are common and adding Google Assistant access dramatically increases the potential value of the device to end users. Can the presence of a voice assistant transform a feature phone into a smartphone?
Certainly, Google Assistant introduces search, navigation, and other core Google services. Google Assistant also now supports mobile app integrations which could also enable app access through feature phones where the apps are hosted in the cloud. A Google blog post by Randy Jusuf, managing director, Google Indonesia, commented:
We launched the Google Assistant in Bahasa Indonesia in April. Now, we’re taking our Indonesian-speaking Assistant out of smartphones and putting it into feature phones. WizPhone is the first feature phone made by Indonesians that will have the Google Assistant built in and it will retail at less than $10 (IDR 99,000).
Following JioPhone and Coolpad Google Assistant Integration
In December 2017, another feature phone maker, the India-based JioPhone, announced Google Assistant integration. JioPhone was the first feature phone to include Google Assistant access and carried a retail price at the time of about US $23. Another large feature phone seller in India, Coolpad, added Google Assistant integration in March. WizPhone will be the first Google Assitant supported device from an Indonesian feature phone maker.
Voice industry professionals should consider Google’s strategy here. It is aggressively rolling out Google Assistant language localization in dozens of countries and doing so faster than its voice assistant rivals. The company is then going a step further to ensure Google Assistant is accessible on the devices that most local residents utilize. Google rode fast-follower status in smartphones to more than 85% global market share for its Android OS. That strategy included supporting low-cost smartphones that were more affordable to many consumers than an iPhone. Google Assistant’s move into feature phones is a way for the voice assistant to expand market share into segments that its competitors currently cannot access.