Top Languages for Digital Content

Part
01
of one
Part
01

Top Languages for Mobile Digital Content

We triangulate that the main languages mobile users in India use in interacting with digital content and apps on their mobile devices are Hindi, English, Marathi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, and Malayalam. Hindi and English are the predominant languages, with more than half of the country's mobile users using either of these languages when accessing the internet on their mobile devices.

METHODOLOGY

Starting with a press search, we learned that several technology companies hoping to expand their presence in India have started offering digital content in Indian languages. There are numerous news articles on the topic, including those published by Quartz India and The Economic Times, but they all seem to reference KPMG and Google's report on Indian languages. Relevant statistics can all be traced back to this report. However, none of the statistics are specific to the country's mobile users. The segmentation that is available is specific to the country's internet users. We came across MMA Global's report on the country's mobile marketing ecosystem and InMobi's report on the evolving mobile Indian user, but these reports do not identify the top languages mobile users in the country use in accessing the internet. Even MMA Global's report references KPMG and Google's report. KPMG and Google's report already provides the top languages internet users in India will use by 2021. To find the top languages in 2019, we made a few assumptions and calculations. As can be seen below, there were a couple of figures that led us to assume that the breakdown of the country's internet users by language is largely indicative of the breakdown of the country's mobile internet users by language. There were a few 2016 figures as well that enabled us to triangulate the 2019 figures.

TOP LANGUAGES

While we were unable to find statistics specific to India's mobile internet users, we came across KPMG in India and Google's study "Indian Languages - Defining India's Internet," which was published in 2017. The study was widely referenced by media outlets covering how Indian languages are fast becoming an important consideration for technology companies hoping to enter or expand their presence in India. According to this study, 78% of India's internet users access the internet through their mobile device, and 99% of the country's Indian language users, or "Indian language literates who prefer their primary language over English to read, write and converse with each other," access the internet through their mobile devices. These figures suggest that the breakdown of the country's internet users by language is largely indicative of the breakdown of the country's mobile internet users by language.

The number of English internet users in India will increase from 175 million in 2016 to 199 million by 2021, while the number of Indian language internet users will grow from 234 million in 2016 to 536 million by 2021. By 2021, the segmentation of Indian language internet users will be as follows: Hindi (38%), Bengali (8%), Telugu (6%), Tamil (6%), Marathi (9%), Gujarati (5%), Kannada (5%), Malayalam (3%), and other languages (20%). These figures suggest that, by 2021, there will be 735 million internet users in India, and the segmentation of these internet users will be as follows:

English: (199 million / 735 million) x 100% = 27.1%
Hindi: ((0.38 x 536 million) / 735 million) x 100% = 27.7%
Bengali: ((0.08 x 536 million) / 735 million) x 100% = 5.8%
Telugu: ((0.06 x 536 million) / 735 million) x 100% = 4.4%
Tamil: ((0.06 x 536 million) / 735 million) x 100% = 4.4%
Marathi: ((0.09 x 536 million) / 735 million) x 100% = 6.6%
Gujarati: ((0.05 x 536 million) / 735 million) x 100% = 3.6%
Kannada: ((0.05 x 536 million) / 735 million) x 100% = 3.6%
Malayalam: ((0.03 x 536 million) / 735 million) x 100% = 2.2%
Other languages: ((0.20 x 536 million) / 735 million) x 100% = 14.6%

Given that the number of internet users in India will grow from 409 million in 2016 to 735 million by 2021, we can estimate that the number of internet users in 2019 will be around 581 million, as can be seen in the computation below.

CAGR: ((735 million / 409 million)^(1/5)) - 1 = 12.4%
2019 number of internet users: 409 million x 1.124 x 1.124 x 1.124 = 581 million

Assuming that the language breakdown will not drastically change between 2019 and 2021, we can estimate that the segmentation of these 581 million internet users will be as follows:

Hindi: 27.7% x 581 million = 160.9 million
English: 27.1% x 581 million = 157.5 million
Marathi: 6.6% x 581 million = 38.3 million
Bengali: 5.8% x 581 million = 33.7 million
Telugu: 4.4% x 581 million = 25.6 million
Tamil: 4.4% x 581 million = 25.6 million
Gujarati: 3.6% x 581 million = 20.9 million
Kannada:3.6% x 581 million = 20.9 million
Malayalam: 2.2% x 581 million = 12.8 million
Others: 14.6% x 581 million = 84.8 million

Given our earlier assumption that the breakdown of the country's internet users by language is largely indicative of the breakdown of the country's mobile internet users by language, we can deduce that the top languages Indians use in interacting with digital content and apps on their mobile devices are Hindi, English, Marathi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, and Malayalam. InMobi projects that "over the next five years, it is expected that 9 out of every 10 new internet users in India are likely to prefer vernacular or regional languages to access the internet."

Sources
Sources