Just say the Words and these Startups will Connect You
Bengaluru: When someone who doesn’t understand English relies on translation services for using smartphones, there are multiple challenges. A word like player, for instance, could mean different things: a sports player, a music instrument, even a brand name like John Players. And, even as the Indian economy increasingly moves to online transactions, this smartphone user still finds himself baffled at the host of consumer apps waiting for him to come on board and transact.
A bunch of startups in the field of linguistics, which have acquired a strong user base by hooking these users to consume online content, is now focusing on the transition of these users to transacting online.
Companies like Indus OS, Reverie Language Technologies and Liv.ai are enabling a large ecosystem of Internet companies, mobile app makers and manufacturers to target non-English-speaking Indian consumers by connecting with them through regional languages. These startups have seen a significant spike in demand of their services in the last one year.
“About 60% of queries in local languages cannot be interpreted by the current search engines of the world,” said Arvind Pani, chief executive of Reverie Language Technologies. It is one of the companies working to enable regional-language support in WILLIAM MERRITT CHASE,
the BHIM app, the payment application launched by the government in its push towards a digital economy.
The startup has also got on board Internet companies such as Snapdeal, Practo and Ola, with the intent of increasing engagement with consumers by enabling regionallanguage interaction.
“As consumers of regional content are moving from ‘consumption to transaction’ phase, there is a lot of demand from service providers and Internet companies on increasing engagement with consumers which has proven to enhance user experience,” Pani said. In the past one year, the demand for platforms that enable regional content has increased sevenfold, he said. The government mandate on providing support for Indian languages on all mobile phones sold in the country from July has also pushed business for these players.
Indus OS, a regional language operating system for smartphones, has in the past one year partnered with six large equipment manufacturers, including Celkon, Micromax, Intex, Karbonn and Swipe, to provide a local language ecosystem for smartphones.
“The transition for the first-time smartphone users is overwhelming,” said chief executive Rakesh Deshmukh. “We have therefore focused on enhancing user experience by features that simplify usage in regional language.” The company has increased its user base to 7 million as of January from 1.2 million last year. On its mobile app store, called App Bazaar, Indus OS promotes regional content through developers while also providing discoverability for consumer Internet apps such as Flipkart and Snapdeal.