India is home to a culturally and historically diverse population. Each culture is a colour and the colour has endless number of shades. According to Wikipedia, the 1961 census recognised, 1652 mother tongues. Officially the number of languages spoken in India is listed to 122; however the People’s Linguistic Survey (2013) of India pointed out that it counted up to 780 languages in the country, and suspects the existence of another 100.
As much as the language play accounts for India’s rich literature and ethnicity, it has proven to be a woe for the modern concept of internet.
‘Local Language Study 2013’, published jointly by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International states that internet users in India could increase by 24 per cent if local language content is provided on the internet.
Where is the opportunity?
The report highlights that in the rural areas, 43 per cent of the non-users of internet said that they would adopt the medium if the content was provided in local language. In urban areas, per cent of non-users awaiting local language content was identified at 13.5 per cent.
Creating applications, programmes and content in local language could give organisations an opportunity to tap large untouched markets.
Existing internet users, also long for content in the language of their choice. Amongst current active internet users, local language usage penetration is around 42 per cent.
With e-mail, News and Search being the main activities, local language content users in urban India are not much different from English. But, in rural India, entertainment, social networking and email remain the primary purpose of using online local language content.
Almost 52 per cent of local language users in rural India use applications to stream or download movies, music, etc; 46 per cent of them use applications for mobile VAS downloads like wallpapers and ringtones; and 44 per cent use applications for social networking websites.
Hindi, being the national language of India, 27 per cent of the users use Hindi to access online content, followed by Marathi and Tamil in rural areas. In urban setup, 60 per cent of the users access online content in Hindi, followed by Tamil and Marathi.
One of the major reasons that hold back online content in local language is monetisation. Local language content and services are very niche, and thus, a lot of options might not be possible.
With the increasing demand of local languages, a number of translation applications are seen coming up. Also, a number of players are entering in the content space creating videos and images in local languages. However, there is still a huge need gap in terms of content and services in local languages.