India has the world’s largest mobile phone market after China still the exposure of internet through mobile is low. One of the factors can be non-availability of the better internet but even looking beyond that (as Reliance Jio is doing a great job regarding it), people who have internet don’t use it much due to localization issues. One of the initial steps for an emerging market like India to adopt internet and applications is localization by language.
India’s literacy rate is at 76% but the fact to know is that Indian population who are literate won’t understand English as they are not native speakers. Even though English is taught in India, people prefer to use native language over it. After Mandarin Chinese and English, the most spoken language in the world is Hindi (combining the first and second language speakers).
Taken into consideration of what I came across and few talks with the users personally, I have divided the points into:
‣ Organizational benefits
‣ Customer need
‣ Research guidance
Organization: Benefits from the user
- Number of users increases as the ability to understand the interface increases.
- Adaptation to Indian languages creates more active users.
- The increase of original content posted by the user, if they can understand the interface better.
- More user attraction to content like entertainment and news in local languages, which in turn increases the usage count of new features related to the same.
- Business to customer interaction through chats, forums, pages and groups increases if there are fewer communication problems.
- Indian users are more attracted and likely to respond to advertising through Indian languages than English. ROI through adverts is better.
Customer: Preference of the users
- Indian language user prefers mobile to access the internet, same for general users in India.
- Users prefer videos and images that have more Indian context with the use of audio or text in Indian languages. Content like videos of local shows, news and information, help, and tutorials are preferred in local languages.
- Users consider the local language content to be more accurate and reliable.
- Users have some concern about the translation happening in the web app on the content from English to native languages, it’s wrong and some translations are misleading.
- Chat applications and Digital entertainment have more than 90% adoption among Indian language users (KPMG and Google survey)
Hindi internet user base is likely to outgrow English. Other languages like Marathi and Bengali will grow along with it.
More government sites are adapting Indian Languages focusing on user needs. A similar trend is followed by:
- Paytm (a payment wallet application) considering localization by adding 10 Indian languages.
- Hike messenger is looking for chat features in the local language as well as have native stickers pack with local language and Indian context illustrations.
- ShareChat share text, images, GIFs, audio and video in Indian languages like Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, and Malayalam. This app is very much focused on regional language.
- Way2News a news only app that provides Short News content in 8 Indian Languages & English.
Nearly 60% of Indians speak a language other than Hindi. Hindi speaking states include Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, and Jharkhand.
Focus more on the south Indian languages also. A study on Indian Languages defining Indian internet, April 2017 by KPMG and Google says that Tamil, Kannada and Telugu users will be among the most digitally engaged from 2016 to 2021.
Language is a very sensitive matter promoting one language creates distress in user why his native language was not given preference. Currently, Tamil (42%) has the highest internet adoption levels followed by Hindi and Kannada among the Indian language users.