Localisation Trumps English in India

Tech Companies Need to Adapt to the Local Lingua on the Subcontinent

India_Internet_lTechnology companies looking to cater to the many millions of Indians who are expected to soon buy their first smartphones need to understand one thing: most of these citizens communicate and access the Internet in their local languages. The fact that India has 22 officially recognised languages and thousands of local dialects is likely to prove a challenge for many foreign and even local companies, particularly smaller market entrants that lack the resources to tailor their products and services to regional demand needs.

It should be noted that even though English is an official federal-level language of India, the majority of the population doesn't have command of it. So although the interface of most smartphones and tablets sold in the country is in English, and many services are available in English and Hindi, these are nearly useless for many potential users.

One success story is WhatsApp, which has more than 200 million active monthly users in India. The company has jumped on the vernacular bandwagon by offering 11 regional languages. Its parent Facebook supports 13 languages. To help businesses communicate better with their customers, WhatsApp rolled out its free WhatsApp Business service on Android devices, aimed at small companies. The app lets customers view information such as a business description, e-mail and physical addresses and Web site.

Google, which is currently present in nine Indian languages, has an immediate incentive to offer better regional support, as the advertising market in local languages is expected to grow exponentially. The company recently launched AdWords and AdSense in Tamil, which is spoken by 43 million people. It has also started to orchestrate events that bring together content creators and advertisers from across this populous country.

In addition to dominant international companies such as Facebook and Google, Indian entrepreneurs are finding ways to customise their products to the local level. Indus OS is an Indian company that has tailored a mobile operating system to local needs. The company claims to be the world's first regional operating system made for smartphones in India and other emerging markets. Its entire strategy centres on the linguistic complexities of the country: its operating system supports 12 languages that can switch to English and back with just a swipe. Google's Android platform requires seven steps to translate into a local language. It's not surprising that Indus now has an estimated 8 percent smartphone market share in India. This compares with 2 percent for iOS and over 80 percent for Android.

Of course, in the long term it will be very difficult for a small operating system provider to rival the mighty Google and Apple when it comes to the app ecosystem, but the current success of Indus shows that Western companies should pay more attention to localisation if they want to power the more than 900 million smartphones expected to be sold in India over the next five years.

Social media, messaging platforms and hardware makers that fail to quickly adapt to this trend are in line to be disrupted by more nimble competitors. India is a country filled with avid users of information and entertainment content, and for much of the population, English is moving aside in the pursuit of vernacular glory. From here on, the boom in smartphone usage in India will come not from users who understand English, but from those who speak one of the country's many other languages. Future success in India will be linked to companies' ability to improvise and innovate at the local level.

This entry was posted on April 13th, 2018 and is filed under Services. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or you can leave a response.

Posted By Raghu Gopal On April 13th, 2018

(There are no comments yet)
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
A look at the next wave of collaboration tools hoping to solve the problem of technology overload in the workplace,… https://t.co/ZapufOw90k
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
RT @kestermann: Total UK mobile data traffic continues to show strong growth on 4G (now tailing off on 3G). @CCSInsight’s latest UK forecas…
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
Quick shout out to Crissia in the @FitBark team for the excellent support today. Was having some problems correctly… https://t.co/F1bGOF30nX
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
Very interesting briefing just now with @retarus on "information logistics" - the Industrial IoT world increasingly… https://t.co/n1JIKDsX8e
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
Oh my.. The Verizon Y branding has now vanished entirely.. What happened to "doubling down and focusing on the netw… https://t.co/5K38Zmj1zG
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
Well done to @giffgaff for turning the outage PR nightmare into a positive story! Almost 39% of members chose t… https://t.co/Op5u3IZeWu
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
Which tech brand does IT trust the most with their company data? #Microsoft now leaps ahead of the rest - includi… https://t.co/IMvfLRSmYK
Follow Nicholas
Kester Mann
RT @MarinaKoytcheva: Well done to @giffgaff for turning the outage PR nightmare into a positive story! Almost 39% of members chose to d…
Follow Kester
Angela Ashenden
RT @nickmcquire: Which tech brand does IT trust the most with their company data? #Microsoft now leaps ahead of the rest - including secu…
Follow Angela
George Jijiashvili
RT @MarinaKoytcheva: Great job opportunity for a quantitative analyst: @CCSInsight is looking for a smart person to join our market forecas…
Follow George
Katie Taylor
RT @bengoldacre: In 2017 @NHSengland published a list of things GPs should not prescribe. Six months on, we checked the data to see what i…
Follow Katie

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
Postmates' Food Delivery Bot Robots Like This Could Be the Future of Delivery Postmates ... Read more
Blog Post
The Digital Workplace Hub The Next Wave in Collaboration The collaboration software m... Read more
Blog Post
The Money Trail The Bane of Location Tracking We gain a lot from smartphone... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
Virtual Reality Device Market Declines in 2018 But Outlook Remains Positive Research firm CCS Insight forecasts 8 million virtual realit... Read more
More news