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Local languages are crucial to success for tech outfits in India

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Video: India becomes the second-largest smartphone market

Content and technology providers hoping to exploit the goldmine of 800 million Indians who will be buying smartphones for the first time in their lives will quickly realize a crucial trend: India may have been colonized by the English and the language may hold sway in the boardrooms, bars, and coffee shops of its major cities, but for the rest of its citizens, local languages are how they communicate and how they will access the internet.

Read also: Why WhatsApp's entrance into India's payments space has terrified Paytm[1]

This fact poses a giant headache for companies -- simply because India has some 23 official languages across 1.3 billion people that are so distinct from each other that when Indians sometimes travel from their own state to a neighboring one, they often have no idea what their fellow citizens are saying. To compound this complexity, there are thousands of dialects that often replicate this experience within just one state. English, which is what most devices are equipped with, can become essentially useless.

Indus OS, a homegrown[2] outfit (which I first wrote about here[3]) that tailor-makes an OS uniquely catered to India's staggeringly diverse population, is surfing on this very complexity as an opportunity. Founded by three graduates from the Indian Institute of Technology, its operating system supports an impressive 22 languages that can switch to English and back with just a swipe. Android takes seven steps to change into a local language.

It's not surprising that Indus now has 8 percent market share -- versus 2 percent for iOS and 82 percent for Android -- before the rural smartphone boom has even begun. Indus even has its own app

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