Just say the Words and these Star­tups will Con­nect You

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Shadma.Shaikh@ times­group.com

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.

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