Google looks towards China with major investment in Mobvoi

Mountain View has purchased a minority stake in the Chinese AI outfit

Google is looking to get active in China again, and has bought up a minority stake in Mobvoi.

Mobvoi is a Chinese artificial intelligence startup created back in 2012 by an ex-Google employee, which specialises in speech recognition and natural language processing, and also has its own smartwatch for the Chinese market (Ticwatch) that was launched in June, with its own OS that features Mobvoi's voice search.

Neither company would say exactly how much Google invested.

Google has previously entered into a partnership with Mobvoi, with an announcement last month that the latter would push Android Wear in China – with the Moto 360 being the first smartwatch to benefit from this strategic agreement, sporting full Chinese voice search and voice controls driven by Mobvoi.

Buyout not on the cards

So it seems that things are certainly moving up a gear concerning Google's Chinese ambitions – as you're probably aware, the country has blocked Google services, causing Mountain View some difficulties when it comes to an increasingly profitable territory.

Mobvoi co-founder Yuanyuan Li told TechCrunch, which reported the investment, that Google wasn't about to buy up her company further down the line.

She said: "We value this partnership a lot, and respect Google as an investor, [but it is] still a minority investor and we will focus on what we believe in and in our products … We're not changing what we've planned."

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