Sogou (which is owned by Sohu) has long been a competitor to Baidu in the search field, but it not attempted to mirror Baidu’s expansion into other areas like mobile internet. Case in point: Baidu has a phone, but Sogou’s only foray into the mobile space is its Chinese input method.
But Sogou CEO Wang Xiaochuan says that’s changing. He spilled the beans at a TechWeb IT conference yesterday, saying that Sogou is working on a new mobile internet product that’s related to speech recognition. Is comparing it to Siri fair? Apparently. Wang himself used a screenshot of Siri at the conference and said the product was “related to Siri, but different.” Whatever that means.
The company has been developing this product using voice data they’ve apparently been getting from the Google Voice implementation they added to their Sogou input method earlier this year. So far they’ve collected more than a thousand hours of voice data and are continuing to collect more.
Sogou’s input method is fairly widely-used, so the company has had success with language-based mobile products. It will be interesting to see how this one goes over, and — more to the point — what the heck it actually is. Wang Xiaochuan isn’t saying, yet.