Star­tups ring in lo­cal lingo, con­tent

Help First-Time Smart­phone Users Rid­ing Cheap Tar­iffs, Fall­ing De­vice Prices

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES BUSINESS - Ran­jani Ay­yar & Aparna De­sikan

Chen­nai: Sudeep Pal, who runs a gro­cery store in Bankura district, West Ben­gal, used to be the butt of jokes among his friends be­cause he as­pired to buy a smart­phone de­spite not know­ing English. Now, armed with a Mi­cro­max phone, which is pow­ered by an In­dus OS (op­er­at­ing sys­tem), he is able have a has­sle-free ex­pe­ri­ence. “With one swipe, I can trans­late or­ders sent by cus­tomers into Ben­gali. I can play games, chat with friends and do ev­ery­thing on this phone be­cause it is all in Ben­gali,” said Pal.

With tele­com op­er­a­tors of­fer­ing data packs as low as Rs 8 and smart­phones get­ting af­ford­able, all eyes are now on the next 100 mil­lion first-time smart­phone users. Star­tups like Rev­erie, In­dus OS, Pro­cess9 and Key­point Tech­nolo­gies are bet­ting big on this seg­ment with re­gional lan­guage as­sis­tance. From a com­plete OS that sup­ports lan­guages like Hindi, Marathi and Tamil to build­ing in­tu­itive key­boards and a repos­i­tory of apps, th­ese com­pa­nies are try­ing to bridge the ru­ral-ur­ban dig­i­tal di­vide.

In­dus OS works with OEMs

Rev­erie’s Swalekh key­board of­fers 22 In­dian lan­guages, while the Indix phone book al­lows users to save con­tacts in 12 In­dian lan­guages

De­fault lan­guage in Kar­bonn, In­tex and Zen’s An­droid mo­biles can be changed into Hindi, English, Marathi on the lock screen it­self

Pro­cess9’s Mox Saral and Key­pad apps al­lows user to type in 23 lan­guages (orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers) like Mi­cro­max, In­tex and Kar­bonn to in­te­grate its op­er­at­ing sys­tem, which of­fers fea­tures like trans­la­tion through a sin­gle swipe, text-to-speech in nine re­gional lan­guages and in­tu­itive auto-correction.

“Be­sides hav­ing a phone that has re­gional con­text, we re­alised that con­tent avail­able on the in­ter­net was still English. So we cre­ated App Bazaar, a self-pub­lish­ing plat­form that has 24,000 de­vel­op­ers of­fer­ing apps in re­gional lan­guages,” said Rakesh Desh­mukh, CEO and co-founder, In­dus OS. With

In­dus OS al­lows English sen­tences to be trans­lated & translit­er­ated in one swipe In­dus OS also gives ac­cess to App Bazaar that has over 50,000 apps in re­gional lan­guages. It has tied up with tel­cos to link app charges to phone bal­ance/post­paid bills

Pro­cess9 of­fers lo­cal­i­sa­tion of web­sites/apps where users can choose parts to trans­late, translit­er­ate or leave in English pop­u­lar apps like Twit­ter, Skype, Freecharge, TrueCaller, Snapdeal and Cut the Rope avail­able on the App Bazaar, all users of In­dus OS-in­te­grated smart­phones have ac­cess to over 50,000 apps for as less as Re 1and up to Rs 80.

The de­mon­eti­sa­tion move has proved handy for star­tups like Rev­erie Lan­guage Tech­nolo­gies (Rev­erie) and Pro­cess9. Fin­tech play­ers like Mo­biK­wik, Ba­jaj Fin­serve and HDC Se­cu­ri­ties are look­ing to of­fer their apps in re­gional lan­guages and th­ese star­tups are of­fer­ing tech sup­port.

Rev­erie also of­fers techen­abled sup­port to con­sumer­fac­ing apps. Go­ing be­yond trans­la­tion of English words, orig­i­nal con­tent is cre­ated in re­gional lan­guages to fa­cil­i­tate a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence. “Some of the first-time ru­ral users of in­ter­net can iden­tify pho­net­ics, but not spell the words right. To look up mo­bile phone cov­ers, they may type ‘ mobail kover’ and yet find the right re­sults,” said Arvind Pani, CEO, Rev­erie. Some of the prom­i­nent apps that the startup pro­vides sup­port for are Snapdeal, Ola’s driver app and Practo.

Vidushi Kapoor, COO, Pro­cess9, said, “We of­fer lo­cal­i­sa­tion in 10 In­dian lan­guages and work with OEMs and other play­ers like BookMyShow, MakeMyTrip and to lo­calise con­tent for con­sumers.” Their In­dian lan­guage key­pad is cur­rently in­stalled on over 10 mil­lion de­vices made by com­pa­nies like iBall, Gionee and Lava. Their prod­ucts of­fer tech­nolo­gies that fa­cil­i­tate trans­la­tion to re­gional lan­guages, in­tel­li­gent key­board lay­outs and OS to pro­vide multi-lin­gual sup­port.

A ma­jor driver for th­ese star­tups is the gov­ern­ment man­date for mo­bile phones sold af­ter July 2017 to have re­gional lan­guage read­ing sup­port in 22 lan­guages. “We have part­nered with In­tex, Kar­bonn and Zen Mo­biles for key­pads in re­gional lan­guages. The op­tion to tog­gle be­tween lan­guages is made avail­able on the lock screen it­self as many users may not un­der­stand the word set­tings in English to change the lan­guage there,” Pani of Rev­erie said.

In­vestors say that first-time in­ter­net and smart­phones users are the next big bet. Karthik Reddy, man­ag­ing part­ner, Blume Ven­tures, said the first 100 mil­lion users are those who have mul­ti­ple in­ter­net ac­cess points. To them, one can sell the con­cept of lux­ury, con­ve­nience and want-based prod­ucts. The rest, which rep­re­sents first-time in­ter­net users, is a dif­fer­ent mar­ket. It is a do­mes­tic prob­lem unique to In­dia and an un­likely space for for­eign com­pe­ti­tion. “Here, spend­ing is driven by how much one re­quires your prod­uct to get past their im­me­di­ate need. Data us­age is off the hook with peo­ple across eco­nomic lev­els us­ing the in­ter­net and this is a shift en­trepreneur­s need to be cog­nisant of.”

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