India and Mobile Localization: Alpha Omega Translations

April 1, 2016 |

By Sarah-Claire Jordan

india India is well-known as a very tech-savvy country, and one that adapts quickly to new changes in technology. The most recent trend that has taken over the mobile technology sector in India, as well as Sri Lanka and Pakistan, is the use of smartphones by everyone who can afford them. Now, India is the second-largest smartphone market in the world, and one of the fastest-growing ones as well.

What does this mean for those who specialize in localizing mobile phones? The TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has already answered that for you. They recently drew up a proposal that would make it mandatory for all mobile phones, smart or otherwise, to support Indian languages. Before, companies could get away with using English, one of the popular lingua francas in India, but this means a lot more time and money needs to be invested into the Indian smartphone market than previously thought.

With more and more Indians switching over to smartphones, TRAI could not have had better timing with the proposal. The areas of India that aren’t so urbanized are a huge part of this as well, and they should not be ignored. In fact, these vast areas of the country far away from big cities are where a lot of these new smartphone customers live and work. They have the money to spend on smartphones and want to be just as connected to the digital world as their city-dwelling neighbors.

One issue with this is the vast number of languages spoken in India. The proposal says that all 22 of the official Indian languages must be supported, but upon further inspection, this really means that each device needs to be in English, Hindi, and one local language. But which local language should be chosen? Each region of the country has a dazzling array of local languages, with the urban centers being hubs of linguistic merging. However, the backcountry areas are more likely to stick to the most common local languages. Mobile language localization will have to be done according to each region.

There is a huge need for translators to deal with this situation of how to get mobile content into Hindi and the other languages of India. The machine translation option is not a very good one, as few MT programs are designed to deal properly with a lot of the Indian languages. Post-editing could be an option, but it is definitely not ideal and customers are likely to notice and complain.

India is a huge country with an equally huge market for smartphones, and it would be a shame if mobile companies didn’t try their best to localize and create content for as many languages as possible. If done incorrectly, however, some communities could end up feeling very alienated, which is why top-notch translators need to be on board with these new projects. With the right people, a smartphone marketing campaign in India could be wildly successful.

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Category: Business Translation

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