Alphabet’s Google unit announced today that its specialized search and knowledge graph are now available in Bengali, one of the most common languages spoke in India, after Hindi and English.
Indeed, Bengali is the sixth most widely spoken language on the planet, according to Google, and is spoken by about 200 million people. It’s ranked just behind Hindi and is particularly concentrated in the eastern corner of India, as well as being the primary language for neighboring Bengladesh.
Google said the knowledge graph is available in 41 languages. But having it available specifically in Bengali, along with Google’s spellcheck features, will allow it to learn and improve based on searches in that language, offering faster and more precise results for Bengali speakers.
While it may seem like a modest step, the decision to add a second major language from the Indian region is the latest sign of how far Silicon Valley companies are going to cater to a market that now stands as the world’s second largest in terms of internet and smartphone users.
Reports continue to claim that Apple will soon start manufacturing its iPhones here. And companies like Uber and Amazon are pouring significant resources into the country. Facebook, despite controversy surrounding its free internet initiative, continues to make India a focus, as well.
For these companies, the rapidly expanding Indian middle class is an attractive market. Still, it remains to be seen whether most of them can outmaneuver local startups who are specifically focused on their home market.
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