What is the significance of language for an app developer in a country that is the world’s second most populous country with over 23 constitutionally recognized languages? Here are some answers. Last year, India overtook the US as the world’s no. 2 market in app downloads.
By 2022, it is believed India will have 37.2 billion downloads a year, a growth rate of 207% – which makes it the fastest growing app market in the world. As for the number of apps installed and used per month, it is now the #1 country in the world, overtaking the US as the country with the highest number of non-organic installs. This and the fact that three out of four adults in India, both urban and rural, use a mobile presents a large opportunity that is waiting to be snapped.
Language integration – the game changer
Despite this growth, the Indian app currently market is largely unorganized, with only 50% of Indians using the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. The rest of the users rely on third-party app stores and offline channels for their needs. This represents a USD 1 billion market that is yet to be tapped. In addition, 60% Indian users cite the lack of localization as the greatest challenge in digital consumption. Apps that provide valuable services like payments, government services, news, classifieds, and online shopping may be witnessing low penetration rates due to this very reason.
Localization is a very large global opportunity. Consider the profile of a young call center worker in a metro and makes about ₹7,000–8,000 each month, the middle-aged grocery shop owner in a Tier 2 city, or a small town farmer. Today, 75% of Indian adults use a mobile phone, and the usage is only going to explode with an estimated 500 million first-time users set to join the internet world over the next five years, out of which 300 million will be regional language users.
Mobile phone penetration has the power to transform
YouTube, a language-friendly platform, accounts for 47 percent of entertainment app usage in India, against only 17 percent in the US. Platforms such as YouTube and TikTok use the universal language of entertainment for city and rural consumers.
It may be time to recognize that unlike the previous trend of mobile internet users, the new users are not going to be native English speakers. It is reasonable to believe that the majority of Indians will find local language digital content to be their incentive. Thus, there remains a huge language vacuum that needs to be filled by software developers.
Braving the native frontier
Internet giant Google has already recognized this and brought out voice search support for eight Indian languages. Platforms like Indus OS have already begun to innovate in this area by being available in 12 different languages. The homegrown technology brand is building a content platform tailored for the Indian language internet ecosystem, for users to discover content and services in the language of their choice.
Imagine if this article was written in a language that you didn’t understand, most likely you would’ve skipped reading it entirely. The opportunity for language integration is no less than $1 billion. To reach the target audience, now is the appropriate time to innovate.