Language is no longer a barrier these days for smartphone users in India. An Operating System (OS) which caters exclusively to regional language users has unveiled their offering of a ‘desi’ (local) OS, allowing users to communicate in the language of their choice. That could be one among 12 regional languages in India, with a projected target of reaching 1 billion regional smartphone users.
Obviously a nerve has been touched. Within 6 months, 2 million users have signed up. ‘Indus’ has “revolutionized the mobile industry in India”, they claim. The company has in place the world’s first regional smartphone OS built on Android. The founders believe that language is the key to increasing the usability of many first time smartphone users in the market, specially in a hugely savvy emerging market. Clearly, using a smartphone in Hindi, Bhojpuri or Bengali holds a lot of appeal for people.
Founded by IIT institute graduates from Mumbai, the company has enlisted their talent & drive to grow at the rate of 150% per month. Their unique positioning as an OS which targets regional users of smartphones has netted them a slew of angel investors who sup at the same table. Recently, the startup garnered a US $5 million investment to take their product to the next level. The Series A round of funding came from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar & his wife Pam. More investment has followed from angels in India, all eager to prod many a shy (& more-comfortable-with-a-regional-language) Indian to go online via a smartphone.
The key features in the regional keyboard include:
- Matra Predictions
- 2,00,000 words in each language
- Translate or transliterate with a swipe
- Simple & intuitive interface
- 12 regional languages
- Word predictions
In an interview with TechCruch.com, Rakesh Deshmukh, Indus OS CEO, had said, “People don’t know how to operate a smartphone & have very limited understanding of technology. We want a simple interface to help people shift from a feature phone to a smartphone easily. We found, for example, that many are more comfortable with hard keys, & color-coding such as green & red for calls.”
The company also offers an apps store whose current stock includes 15,000 apps. This may compare unfavourably with the more sophisticated Google Store marketplace which offers millions of apps. But Deshmukh, promises additions galore to the stock by the end of the year.
– This post is merely a startup profile based on publicly available information & not a review. –
Image Credit: Indus