Google to counter facebook with its ‘Neighbourly’ app

Google’s ‘Neighbourly’, a hyper local social app, is part of the company’s Next Billion Users programme-to counter Facebook’s growing popularity. This India-specific app is currently available in Mumbai city only and should be soon available in other cities as well.

‘Neighbourly’ is a part of Google’s long aspired mission of global expansion. The app is created after toiling for two years by the Google researchers in collecting information about the Indian relationships. The data was collected not only in Mumbai but also in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mathura and Delhi and the app aims at restoring the kind of neighbourhood relationships that used to exist among communities, particularly in the Indian and Asian context.

The Neighbourly app will also try and overcome some of the reservations people have over privacy issues associated with the other social networking apps like Facebook or even the popular messaging app WhatsApp, since the users need not even share their full name or phone number.

The app, once downloaded, will work like this: Just the first name will be displayed and can be mainly used to collect information about services in the neighbourhood and get instant replies. A set of 15 questions are already available on tap saving you the time to type them out in an emergency.

Some of the services include service stations that repair electric scooters and where to buy tickets for a cricket match and gardening supplies sources and even funeral services providers and so on.

Google could play the game appropriately and lure a sizeable chunk of the 500 million users of the internet in the country and by keeping the size of the app at just 7 MB, the tech giant has ensured that most of the lower-end smartphones can also download it without any hassles and use. That would also mean Google giving a fight to WhatsApp, which experts feel could become a possibility.

With the free Wi-Fi being offered by Google in over 400 railway stations and other locations across the country and the payment platform Google Tez gaining tractions, this would be the third venture that Google will build to get close to the customers in India and will present it with opportunities to monetize them through advertisements etc. in course of time, to add to the $1 billion it already makes in the country through advertisements. Some of the other ventures like Google+, Allo and Google Hangouts are also there for spreading the service thick and wide. Making Google Assistant available in 8 different Indian languages is also part of the larger strategy aimed at customer engagement. The Neighbourly app has ranking and scoring features also to keep the users interested.


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