Smartphones are taking over our society and a person who doesn’t own one has to be of a rare breed. It’s unlikely that you know anyone who does not use smartphones or the innovative apps you find in them.
It is easily one of the most commonly used tools of our time; a window to the expansive world of the internet. And even though more people are converting to smartphones each day, the market is yet to peak. This means that there is a lot of money to be made in this sector and many companies are looking to the developing economies for reflecting this growth.
India is the fastest-growing economy with the hottest market for the smartphone business these days. Smartphone users are expected to rise to 750 million in the subcontinent by 2020. India’s app downloads saw a 71% rise in 2016 as compared to the 15% global app market growth of the same year. It is not only the easily available or affordable phones that are encouraging this growth, but even the government is pushing digital education: promising to bring digitalisation to 60 million rural households by 2020. The eCommerce market is booming; social media is on the rise, e-wallets are being readily employed; all in all, India is set to be the biggest contributor to the sector.
Of the 300 million smartphone users today, only 200 million know how to communicate in English. The rest speak and read other local languages. The smartphone industry is no longer limited to English speakers. India’s major growth is now from the rural areas. India has 22 official languages written in 13 different scripts. It is a diverse country in terms of linguistics, and no one wants to be left out when it comes to using a phone or taking a selfie. By 2021, 75% of the smartphone users in India will be users of an Indian language. The growth with English users has already stagnated. If someone wants a piece of the Indian smartphone market pie, language diversity will have to be something they offer.
Content in terms of news, social media and videos are easily available in an array of Indian languages today. Many government apps, mobile wallets, and even some e-commerce sites have already begun to offer some of the major languages used around the country. But the situation is far from ideal. English is still the primary language used for nearly all apps. With how the market is set out to be, app translation should be a priority for all app providers. For technology to become indispensable, it needs to be user-friendly. And to impart the same feeling of seamlessness that English users feel when they use smartphones and apps, language must be employed optimally. Having a linguistically coherent interface in a country of multiple languages is nothing short of a challenge. But it is a challenge that once mastered, has a lot of potential.
This naturally means that there will be a sharp rise in the need for quality translated material in all sectors that use the internet to reach out to their consumers. As technology becomes all-inclusive, the demand for multilingual content on apps and phones is only going to rise in our time ahead. The better and faster we can integrate languages, the more easily we can reach out to the farthest corners of the world.