Vocal for local: What tech giants are doing to woo users in India

August 23, 2020 7:30 AM

The tech giants of the world are incorporating Hindi in their interface to woo Indian users and get the attention of the masses

According to reports, it plans to spend around $420 million for producing and licensing content in India by the end of this year.According to reports, it plans to spend around $420 million for producing and licensing content in India by the end of this year.

By Shriya Roy

In an attempt to woo one of the world’s largest tech consuming user base, streaming giant Netflix has introduced its Hindi interface version. This is Netflix’s latest effort to make wider inroads into the Indian market. This latest move is no surprise as of the 1.3 billion people in the country, only around 10% know English.

Netflix has rolled out a Hindi feature support across its platform, as it’s a language spoken by nearly half-a-billion people in India. Starting from the sign-up page to search rows, collections, synopsis and payment, Hindi is now crafted across the platform. Subscribers can choose Hindi from the ‘Manage Profiles’ section on the welcome screen. “Delivering a great Netflix experience is as important to us as creating great content. We believe the new user interface will make Netflix even more accessible and better suit members who prefer Hindi,” said Monika Shergill, vice-president, content at Netflix India.

The focus on developing the Hindi language interface illustrates the growing user base that Netflix has seen in India. The streaming giant is not limiting itself to the urban user base, but wants to localise and get the attention of the masses. The Hindi support is not only available to subscribers in India, but worldwide.

This development also comes at a time when the company is heavily investing in making original content for the Indian market. According to reports, it plans to spend around $420 million for producing and licensing content in India by the end of this year.

Netflix, however, is not the only tech giant that is working to break through the language barrier in India. Its competitors Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar also support Hindi and have incorporated the language into their interface, but not as extensively as Netflix.

Hindi language support was also introduced in Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa last year. Users can ask Alexa questions in Hindi and the digital assistant responds in the same language. Amazon has also introduced support for Hindi language on its app and website.

According to a report by KPMG and Google, Indian language internet users are expected to account for nearly 75% of India’s internet user base by 2021. So it is only fair that tech giants have been on their feet when it comes to increasing and localising their user base.

E-commerce major Flipkart, too, added a Hindi language feature on its app last year to win over users. A growing push from local and international companies operating in the country to adapt their services and business models shows the growing importance of the Indian market.

Google and Facebook, too, have amassed over 350 million users each in India after having incorporated Hindi and several other local Indian languages in their user interface and across their services. Facebook, for one, can be used not only in Hindi, but multiple Indian languages, and has given a major push in incorporating Indic languages into its app settings.

The transliteration feature in the Facebook mobile app enables users to comment in 12 local Indian languages, including Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, among others. The user can choose any of the 12 languages and then start typing. The tool automatically transliterates English and provides suggestions for the appropriate Hindi or the chosen language character.

Facebook’s sister app Instagram also introduced Hindi language support specifically to cater to Indian users. Users can access and operate the social media app in Hindi, including posts, comments, settings and IGTV section. With the introduction of Instagram Reel as an alternative to TikTok in India, the localised user base of TikTok has also shifted to Instagram and the Hindi interface works in their favour.

Tech giant Google, too, has been one step ahead when it comes to pleasing its Indian user base. Google voice search option is available in eight additional Indian languages that include Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Google’s Gboard keyboard feature consists of 22 Indian languages like Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada and Kashmiri, among others.

Not just that, Google’s Hindi language input app now also includes support for Hinglish Dictionary, which suggests Hinglish (a mix of English and Hindi) words when a user types. Moreover, companies like BookMyShow, Quikr and Snapdeal have also added Hindi interfaces in their mobile apps, and most support additional languages like Tamil and Telugu as well.

With growing internet usage in the country, more and more international brands are giving prime importance to the Indian user base and developing updates specifically for that audience. The Indian market is now the hot playing field for all tech players across the world.

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