My Mobile Interview: Scope of Indian language in VAS

This was carried on,

“Telecom analysts are gung-ho about the role that VAS (value added service) can play in generating revenues. B.G. Mahesh, CEO,, dreams of making his company a big player in the VAS arena”

What is the scope of regional languages in development of mobile VAS in the Indian market?

Only 12 per cent of Indians are comfortable with English.

Regional content, therefore, gives an exponential reach. The moment VAS in regional languages takes off, the market size of this industry will become a lot bigger opportunity.

What kind of challenges are there in developing such content?

Language content needs to cover local issues. It is a challenge to get localised content from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. However, with new advances in technology, it is getting a little easier to gather news from these cities.

What are the major trends going on in this arena?

On mobile, we have three ways to serve the community – SMS, applications and WAP sites. It is early days for regional content on mobile. In fact, we are one of the first players in streaming such content on mobile, and as of now, we see more activity via the SMS route.

Local politics and local events are of great interest to these users. Mobile users would like to get quick alerts on these issues. The number of SMS alerts is also important.

Lack of awareness is a major issue in adoption of Indian regional languages on the internet. What can be done in this regard?

Yes, there is a huge lack of awareness in Indian regional languages, on both internet and mobile. Search engines, especially Google, has done a lot in this area over the last three to four years. But we need more from them. The moment the language search results start matching the quality of English search results, you will see a huge adoption of regional languages.

Also, the state governments need to accept language portals as a section of media. We are not allowed to attend any official press meets.

Lack of supported hardware is also a major issue. Many latest mobile operating systems lack capability to display Indian scripts. What you plan to do in this regard?

Latest iOS perfectly supports Indian scripts. It is a pleasure to read Indian regional script on an iPad and iPhone.Android 2.3 is expected to have support for Indian languages. Android will have a good number of users in India; they can’t afford to ignore the language users.

It is a matter of time to see good support for Indian languages on Android phones. Few of the Indian mobile makers too have started supporting Indian languages. For example, few models of Lava support good number of languages.

2011 will be the year of Indic on internet and mobile.

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