Dec 27, 2022
3 min read
India’s linguistic diversity is staggering. So is the digital Indian language ecosystem.
Issue #2 of our Digital Indian Language Report is out, released July 2018! It can be viewed here.
Out of India’s many languages, the Government of India has accorded 22 of them scheduled status. Between them, they use a number of scripts.
As of 2016, India had 409 million internet users – only 175 of whom used the internet in English. The rest of India’s internet users, 234 million people, used the internet in their own language.
According to a Google KPMG study, this number is projected to grow to 735 million by 2021, with the English speaking base growing by 21 million to 199 million people. The Indic language user base however, is expected to grow to 536 million people. 201 million people will be Hindi users, bigger than the English user base.
That’s over half a billion people using the internet, not in English, but in their own language. To support and cater to such a massive user base will require a robust content ecosystem, technological support for Indic languages, and a smooth user experience.
Most Indian internet users use the internet across low friction verticals, and for utility centric apps. Entertainment, news, messaging, and social media would be examples of the first category, ticket booking, calculators, calendars, and notes would be example of the second.
Each vertical is projected to see tens of millions of users by 2021. Chat and entertainment apps lead, with 400 million users and 392 million users respectively.
Although this sizable user base is already connected with the internet and actively online, various barriers exist that prevent these users from engaging with more verticals and availing more services, and truly enjoying what the internet has to offer them.
- Content creation still poses a problem, with most users (who use mobile devices) finding friction points when it comes to typing and viewing Indic text. We talk about this more in our series on the Government of India’s language mandate.
- Most services and apps are available only in English. Unfamiliarity with English means that Indic language users hesitate using these services, as they don’t completely understand what is being offered to them. They feel safer using services in their own language, even if that means availing these services in person.
- Low awareness among Indic language users means that they are not aware that they can avail services or use apps for what they need. As a result, they just stick to the verticals they are used to using, without looking any further.
We wanted to examine India’s internet in more detail, with our own research and insights, to understand just how this often overlooked user base interacts with the existing internet ecosystem they have access to.
In our first report on India’s Indic internet, based on our own research, titled Reverie’s Digital Indian Language Report, we bring out some growth trends in Indian language internet usage.
Here are some findings from our report.
- The top three languages by session count are Hindi, Telugu, and Marathi. The top three languages by word count are Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati.
- ~40% of all sessions were spent messaging, clearly establishing messaging as the dominant vertical for Indian language users. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Android Messenger were the top apps in this category.
- Hindi was the top language by word count and session count across all the categories measured.
Find out more about the Indian language internet in our report.
At Reverie, we have deep expertise in providing localisation solutions for companies. We have localised over 2 billion words, and our apps have been downloaded over a million times. Our comprehensive LaaS (Language-as-a-service) suite includes real-time Indian language solutions like transliteration, translation, Indic language search, display & input solutions, and more. Our website localisation in Indian languages and app localisation in Indian languages is tailored to your needs and requirements.
Note – An earlier version of this post mentioned the number of digital news users as 180 mn in 2021. This has been corrected.