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CEO Sundar Pichai: Google Translate handles 143 billion words daily



Google I/O 2018 sundar pichai
Google Translate has given
Sundar Pichai, the search giant’s CEO, something else to smile

Justin Sullivan/Getty

  • Google Translate could end up being the search giant’s
    next hit product.
  • The service now translates 143 billion words a day and
    saw a boost in use during the World Cup.
  • Google doesn’t sell ads on the service, but its
    potential appeal for advertisers is obvious.

has a long list of hit products that generate money for the
company everyday — Google Search, YouTube, Google Docs,

But there’s one Google product you might not have thought about
that could be another gold mine: Google Translate. 

During Google’s
second quarter earnings conference call on Monday
revealed an intriguing piece of information that hints
at the translation product’s money-making potential. The app
translates a staggering 143 billions words every day, Pichai
said.  And, Pichai noted, it got a big boost during the
recent World Cup soccer tournament. 

 can take single words, whole sentences, or
even entire web documents them and translate them into one of
more than 100 languages. The search giant launched its
translation service 12 years ago and has been adding new features
and capabilities over the years. The Google Translate app, for
example, can now translate conversations in near real-time and,
using a smartphone camera, can translate street signs written in
another language.

“I … was extremely proud to see the positive feedback on how
useful Google Translate was for people who traveled to Russia”
for the World Cup, Pichai said on the call. He continued: “In
these simple moments, when you’re in an unfamiliar place or you
don’t know the language, Google is there to help with the right
information at the right time.”

The language of money

Google currently offers its translation service and the
corresponding app to consumers for free and — right now —
sans ads. But there is obvious potential to turn it into
a money maker.

Given that a lot of people likely use the translation app when
they’re travelling, it’s not a stretch to imagine ads for local
hotels, restaurants and other traveller-oriented
attractions.  Even if a Google Translate user isn’t
travelling, the app could offer pitches for travel guides and
language schools. 

Sure, Google would have to be careful to create ads that aren’t
disruptive — the last thing you want when you’re trying to ask
for directions to the bathroom is to have to sit through  15
second video ad! But Google has experience developing useful

And as Google continues to enhance the translation app with new
features, the business opportunities are likely to expand. There
could even be a potential enterprise business opportunity, by
allowing other companies to leverage the technology into their

Pichai did not mention any plans for monetizing Google Translate
during the call (and a Google representative would not comment on
the topic). In fact, Pichai’s other comments on Monday’s earnings
call suggested that Google sees its Maps app as the near term
opportunity for new ad revenue.

But the massive popularity of Google’s translation app is
unlikely to be ignored forever. Whether Google flips the switch
next quarter of two years from now, there’s money in Google’s
language machine.

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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