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Content, online transactions to help languages become the frontier in India

Neha Jain
posted on 17th December 2017
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In a country like India, language plays an important role in taking technology to the masses. However, what are the segments that are likely to propel the next wave of online growth? What will be the typical usage behavior of the new internet user?

Discussing challenges, opportunities, and advancements with respect to languages, a panel of experts got together at MobileSparks 2017.

In its sixth edition, MobileSparks 2017 focused on The New Billion. The New Billion are those who represent the next wave of mobile adoption.

The panelists included Arvind Patni, Co-founder, and CEO, Reverie Language Tech; Farid Ahsan, Co-founder, and CEO, ShareChat; Harsha Kumar, Principal, Lightspeed India Partners Advisors; Swapna Gupta, Senior Investment Manager, Qualcomm Ventures. The session was moderated by Alok Soni of YourStory.

In 2017, around 320.57 million people accessed the internet through their mobile phones. In 2021, this figure is projected to be over 462.26 million. Local languages are thus, seen as the frontier in capturing the new billion Indian users.

“Content, data, and accessibility are the drivers for growth in smartphones. However, the new billions of users know how to access and use the data, but don't know how to get to the next level,” said Swapna, explaining the new billion users to the audience.

Farid said the next billion users will be from Tier II and Tier III cities, and building products and services for Bharat could accelerate the number of users. 

Lost in translation - Role of Local languages

“Content first, and once consumers start maturing, online transactions,” is the way in which local languages can play a role in capturing users, said Arvind.

Speaking about the nuances that one needs to take care of while using languages, Farid said, “It cannot be translation, transliteration, it has to be something colloquial, it has to be something relevant.”

As different users have varied behaviors and preferences, building products for everyone’s affinity is a challenge. However, according to Arvind, a quick A-B testing is the key while overcoming the same.

Arvind Patni, Co-founder and CEO, Reverie Language Tech; Farid Ahsan, Co-founder and CEO, ShareChat; Harsha Kumar, Principal, Lightspeed India Partners Advisors; Swapna Gupta, Senior Investment Manager, Qualcomm Ventures; Alok Soni, YourStory

How does one capture the audience

Swapna said, “I believe in the power of data. It can say a lot about the user and one should capitalise on it. ”

When asked about ShareChat’s secret sauce, given that it counts over 90 million people as active users, Farid shared, “Activation, engagement and getting to know users and making those users part of one’s growth team.”

Speaking about the kind of startups that are entering the space of vernacular languages, Harsha said, “Anybody who builds more horizontal solutions specific for the users, like the content or the gaming space, are interesting. For example, if one builds religious content in the vernacular language, it will have a bigger impact.”

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