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90% Of New Internet Users in India Are Non-English Speaking; English User Growth Has Stalled: Google

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Internet Firsts

There is a secret reason why Google is rigorously pushing for Non-English apps, tools and features on their platform – both search and Android.

In the last few years, they have added Hindi voice dictation, Hindi research tools in their search options, Android has been empowered with 11 Indian languages; Google search results are now appearing in vernacular languages; even Google Allo is offering assistance in Hindi language; Hindi AdSense advertisements are now a reality; massive Internet alliance has been launched for vernacular languages and Google maps is also available in Hindi.

Not only Google, but Facebook has also jumped into providing their features in Hindi. MakeMyTrip too offering Hindi assistance for their app users.

Why are such mega-portals pushing Hindi and vernacular languages on their platform?

Because the future of Internet is not English, but it is vernacular languages. And in a recent event, Rajan Anandan, VP for Google’s India and South-East Asian operations has made it clear that growth of English speaking Internet users in India is now over.

Non-English speaking Internet users are the flag bearers of growth, and they will carry the momentum now.

Bye, Bye English… Welcome Indian Languages!

As per Rajan, 9 out of 10 new users who are being introduced to the Internet for the first time, are the non-English speaking users.

He said, “English is over. There are only 200 million Indians who are proficient in English and they are already on the internet. Almost every new user that is coming online-roughly nine out of ten — are not proficient in English. So, it is fair to say that almost all the growth of usage is coming from non-English users.”

Hence, Google has understood that saturation has already arrived for English speaking users’ growth, as almost everyone is now on the Internet. And growth happens when new users join the platform.

And thus, future lies in non-English speaking users.

Rajan said, “Almost every new user that is coming online-roughly nine out of ten — are not proficient in English. So, it is fair to say that almost all the growth of usage is coming from non-English users.”

In association with KPMG, Google conducted a study and found that there are 234 million non-English speaking users on the Internet as of now, compared to 175 million English speaking users.

As per Google, by 2021, Hindi would be a bigger content market on the Internet, compared to English. “This is just four years away,”, says Rajan. In the next 4 years, userbase of non-English speaking users would expand to 534 million, which is an increase of 18% this year.

Here is a breakdown of vernacular users, of different digital mediums:

  • Messaging app: 169 million
  • Digital entertainment: 167 million
  • Social media: 115 million
  • Online news: 106 million

As per Google’s study, major vernacular languages which are witnessing incredible growth in content consumption are Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Gujarati and Malayalam.

Out of these, 30% of the growth is being carried over by speakers of 4 regional languages: Marathi, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu.

Affordable Internet A Major Catalyst for Growth?

The KPMG-Google report also highlights the fact that introduction of super-cheap Internet plans, thanks to Jio, has acted as a catalyst for triggering this massive growth of non-English speaking Internet users.

And this is the reason that 99% of local languages users are coming online from their mobile. Overall, 78% of all users (English + non-English) are accessing the Internet using mobile.

The report mentions that a drop in the price of 4G handsets would trigger another wave of massive growth, as hardware is the only limiting factor for the expansion of the Internet in India.

Rajan said, “For this growth to continue, you need good-quality smartphones at Rs 3,000, and even lower at Rs 2,000.”

In 2015, Google had declared that Hindi content consumption on the Internet is growing at a rate of 94%; and the recent findings of their report clearly confirms the fact that the next billion Internet users from India would be those, who don’t speak English.

As a digital entrepreneur, how will you read this new development? What can be done to capitalise on the ever-expanding market? Do let us know by commenting right here!

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