More and more companies recognise the importance of the localization of apps in consumers’ languages. In this respect Indian businesses seem to be way ahead of the curve as they tap into growing mobile sales and meet demand for apps in local regional languages.
According to The Economic Times, the number of apps that are not only available in national, but in regional languages as well is on the rise in India. This is especially true for local languages as more and more ‘common’ Indians possess a mobile phone.
At the moment, around 45 million Indians access language apps on the internet in their native, local language. Arvind Pani, who previously worked for Intel and is the co-founder of Bangalore-based Reverie Language Technologies, estimates that almost 600 million Indians only use their mobile phones to make phone calls because they feel there are not enough apps in their mother tongue.
Pani’s company Reverie was founded in 2009 and has created a technology that can translate English text into the regional Indian languages. Pani: “Until now, there were no holistic solutions. The story of vernacular services was one of six blind men and the elephant, with each addressing one part of the problem.” Pani has definitely found a successful solution for this, as Reverie is expected to earn 11 crore Indian rupees (including licence fees) at the end of 2014.
However, there are plenty of competitors: ventures such as Plustxt, Hazel Media, Mad Rat Games and Newshunt would love to take their share of the growing Indian mobile market. This isn’t surprising, as only 125 million Indians prefer English as their language of communication, while the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has estimated that there are more than 860 million mobile phone subscriptions.
Karthee Madasamy, senior director at Qualcomm Ventures, which is the investment arm of mobile technology company Qualcomm, has stated: “We are very bullish about the potential of vernacular technologies on the mobile. So far, companies have been happy targeting the top 100 million users. But for digital to grow, companies will have to go beyond this and target the local language users.”
But Qualcomm Ventures isn’t the only company that has caught the eye of investors. Plustxt Mobile Solutions, for example, recently acquired funding from the Mumbai and Bangalore Angels. The company had developed a messaging application in eight different vernacular Indian languages. And with success: the app has already been downloaded 60,000 times and is expected to make about 550 million Indian Rupees in the second quarter of fiscal 2014.
For its app, Plustxt Mobile Solutions uses Reverie’s font and technology. However, Plustxt isn’t the only company to which Reverie has licensed its solution. Other businesses that use their technology are Micromax and Map My India, among others.
Another company that has gained a lot of success by using local languages is the Bangalore-based Mad Rat Games. Mad Rat Gemas develops games that are available in local Indian languages. At first, the company aimed for the educational section of the market, but nowadays, they have expanded their scope. The company receives funding from a number of different sources, including Blume Venture Advisors. Blume Venture’s principal, Adit Parekh: “We first looked at the company due to the potential of the education market. But the app story is huge.”
Local language apps are also very much in demand in the entertainment end news sections of the industry. Especially this last category makes sense, as many people prefer to have access to the news in their mother tongue. Take Newshunt, for example. This company supplies its readers with mobile versions of newspapers in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu and says it has 65 million unique users a month.
Newsfunt has been bought by Verse Innovation last year. The founder of Verse Innovation, Virenda Gupta, has state that they “have proved that vernacular is a large market.” They have indeed – it is expected that in 2015, the company will earn approximately 22 crore in revenue from Newshunt.
Exciting times in India for the localization industry!