The 'new economy' constantly throws up a multiplicity of entrepreneurial ventures trying to solve the problems of modern India. By telling their stories I try to catch a glimpse of the entrepreneurial evolution that India is going through. I have a weakness for the gloss of novelty and chase it in all experiences, from exploring new cities and restaurants, to changing what I read.
Google’s latest search engine innovation in India draws from a simple insight. For many, plain old blue links can be intimidating, or at the very least, boring; particularly when they’re looking for information on films. “One in 10 mobile searches in India is focussed on Indian cinema,” says Sapna Chadha, head of marketing, Google India. “When we think about catering to our users, there’s no better area to focus on.”
This “immersive” search experience was on display at an event held in Bandra, Mumbai, on Thursday, titled, ‘Google’s tribute to Indian Cinema’. Replete with Bollywood imagery, a short tribute film paying homage to iconic Hindi film scenes and with director Karan Johar playing host, the internet giant put the spotlight on how it is enriching film-related searches in India.
Google’s Knowledge Graph, which is essentially a system that looks at things in the real world and how they’re connected, formed the basis for much of what was on display on Thursday, says Satyajeet Salgar, search product manager, Google. “The idea was to improve the user interface, the data, make these connections in the knowledge graph and get information from the ecosystem.” The result is that when a user looks for a film or a dialogue, they’re exposed to a rich array of information which includes the cast, related films, trivia, and of course, songs.
“The thing that’s interesting about the song component is that it was built just for India,” says Chadha. Google’s partnerships ensure that all of these songs can immediately be streamed on music streaming sites like Gaana, Saavn and Hungama.
Google has, for a while now, attempted to provide answers rather than just links. But it’s not just the search results that are changing. “Voice recognition in India has gotten dramatically better in the last few years,” says Salgar, adding that it remains a priority. It’s not surprising considering the fact that voice searches in Hindi have trebled over the past year, according to Chadha. It’s a trend that, as was evidenced earlier this month in KPCB partner Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report, is expected to experience rapid growth. Chadha suggests that adoption in India is being driven by new users who haven’t experienced desktop input yet. “We actually see that first time input users are more comfortable using voice,” she says. “We’re doing a bunch of programmes in rural India where we see this.”