“While there are an estimated 500 million speakers of Hindi, there are just 100,000 Wikipedia articles. India’s Internet population is growing really fast, from 100 million users in 2011, we are now the world’s second largest Internet base with 300 million users and we are well-poised to touch 500 million base by 2017,” Google India Marketing Director Sandeep Menon told PTI.
He added that one in five (21 per cent) prefers to access Internet in Hindi in the country.
Showcasing its products at a ‘Google House’ event here, the US-based firm said it is witnessing strong growth in consumption of Hindi language.
“Hindi content consumption on the web is starting to take off. It has grown 94 per cent year-on-year compared to 19 per cent growth for English content,” Menon said.
Highlighting one such feature, Menon said Google has recently launched a new “instant translation” feature in Google Translate that allows users to translate printed text, like street signs or ingredient lists by opening the app on smartphones and pointing the camera at the text.
“For India, the growth in Internet userbase has certainly come from mobile phones. From 20 million in 2011, we have 152 million users accessing Internet over their smartphones. By 2017, it is expected that 490 million (of the 500 million Internet users in the country) will access Internet from their smartphones,” he said.
And that is also one of the key reasons that Google is focused on bringing in products that understand the requirements of users rather than just cater to the demand and can work well in low network areas, Menon added.
“Some of these include voice search being optimised for English in the Indian accent, and in Hindi to find answers faster, easier and more local. Apart from language, we are also offering offline features like the ability to save Maps or YouTube Offline to help users access services in patchy networks or without incurring huge data charges,” he said.