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SPH jumps on board Google Home as smart speaker launches in Singapore

As Google Home launches in South East Asia this week, Singapore Press Holdings has become the first media owner to start airing its news on the voice-activated speaker device.

The search giant began rolling out its smart speaker – and the accompanying Google Home Mini – in Singapore yesterday, 16 months after its launch in the United States.

Now, SPH will start airing reports and podcasts from The Straits Times and The Business Times – via its recently-launched radio station MoneyFM  – on Google Home.

Although the service will be free to users, SPH has taken the opportunity to flog its digital packages by offering new subscribers a device as a gift.

To use the device, listeners need to download the Google Home app, set their device language to ‘English (Singapore)’ and say: “Ok Google, listen to news from The Straits Times” or “Hey Google, play me the news from The Business Times”.

As the broadcasts will be coming from MoneyFM, users can also expect to hear ads during the new bulletins, SPH said.

Anthony Tan, deputy CEO of SPH, said: “SPH is constantly experimenting to improve our user experience and to bring our audiences the news and content they need in fresh and innovative formats. Voice-enabled technology is the latest frontier and we see a lot of potential to use it to increase our engagement with audiences.”

Voice-activated devices have become one of the biggest technological trends over the past two years, with the launches of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home in Western markets.

In Singapore, Siri is currently available through Apple devices, while the future of Alexa remains to be seen as Amazon tentatively rolls out its operation in South East Asia.

Although still in its infancy to marketers, Google Home became the centre of controversy in the United States when an ad for Burger King triggered the device, leading to criticism among users concerned about the invasion of their privacy.

Speaking in Singapore last year, Ansible’s former global president Travis Johnson said brands remained too focused on their products rather than consumers when it came to using voice devices.

“There are brands playing in that space but, instead of thinking about their utility to the consumer, they’re just thinking about it as an audio feature to their website. And that’s just not interesting,” he said.

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