Is 2012 the year for recognition of Indian languages on the internet?

The year 2012 seems to have begun well for the Indic space – print and online media in India have been writing about Indian language space on the internet. Economic Times on Jan 24, 2012 (Republic Day) carried an article titled “Internet’s Next Growth Story to be Scripted in Vernacular Languages” (epaper, scanned version) and “Start-ups Eyeing Non-English Space ” (scanned version). The author of the article had called me few weeks ago but I wasn’t sure when this article was going to be published. has been mentioned in the article as we are a major player in the Indian language space.

Few highlights from that ET article are as follows,

  •  Mobile VAS providers will be developing language applications.
  • From April 2012 language domainnames will be made available.
  • From content publishers to e-commerce players, from app developers to hardware-makers, the myriad parts of the Internet space are shifting gears in the non-English language space.
  • Currently India has about 100 million internet users, once it crosses 130 million the growth will come primarily from the language users.
  • 85-90% of Internet users come online for content consumption (including social networking).
  • Times of India group has a huge number of people using their Hindi and Marathi sites.
  • Google says about 7-8 languages will dominate the Indian internet space in the coming years (my guess the languages would be Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati – in 5 of those already!)
  • Nokia phones already support 11 Indian languages. But I don’t think they are doing a great job in promoting these phones, at least in Tier-1 cities. The packaging box doesn’t clearly say which language their handset supports.
  • The keyboard is still causing a challenge in the language space.

Today an article in Business Standard says in the next 5 years (by 2017) each language will attract 20 million additional new internet users.

We, those in Indian language space, know we are not there yet. But the traction can be seen and I believe it will show good results in the coming 2 years.


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