In its bid to acquire a larger customer base, e-commerce giant Amazon on Wednesday rolled out support for Hindi (and Hinglish) in its Alexa voice assistant in India. The Seattle-based company’s digital voice assistant supported only 15 languages globally until now, and in the Indian market, Alexa was only able to interact in English.
Rival Google’s Home range of assistants already provide Hindi support.“This launch will enable hundreds of thousands of Alexa customers in India to interact with Alexa to ask for music, get Bollywood or sports updates and much more in Hindi or Hinglish,” the company said.
The new Hindi experience will now be available on all devices in the Echo range of voice-controlled smart speakers.
To get started with Hindi, customers can just ask, “Alexa, help me set up Hindi.” Existing Echo customers in India can also change their device language to Hindi via the Language options inside the Device settings on the Alexa App. Echo Show users, meanwhile, can access the settings section to change the language by swiping down from the top of the screen.
According to Amazon, customers will soon also be able to speak to Alexa in Hindi and English without changing the language settings back and forth, with the company already working to add simultaneous multi-language support to the voice assistant.
Amazon expects that Hindi language support on its voice assistant service will help it penetrate larger markets in India. “One of the critical things in our journey has been the language. When we went deeper in the country, we realised that there was a critical need to come out with a newer language,” said Manish Tiwari, head of devices category business for Amazon India.
Amazon had started the use of a Hindi interface on its platform a year ago, and the platform has seen significant rise in its usage since then. “We started Hindi on the app and on the mobile website, and slowly we expanded what customers would see in Hindi. Over the last one year, we have seen Hindi usage grew by six times. Hindi is going to be one of the biggest ways for us enter into the Hindi heartland and smaller cities,” Tiwari said.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), Amazon Echo led the Indian smart speakers market with 59 per cent share in 2018, followed by Google Home with 39 per cent unit share.