Huge market for mobile apps catering to Indian languages

Some developers are tapping into the niche market of mobile app users who prefer to use local Indian languages instead of English, and this presents another huge opportunity for m-education.

The three largest domains for regional apps in India are instant messaging, gaming and entertainment, and online newspapers.

Huge market for mobile education beckons in India.

According to the Times of India, there are currently 45 million Indians using local language applications over their mobiles. But nearly 600 million users are limiting their mobile usage to only voice calls, as they simply cannot find enough apps in their native language.

Out of 860 million mobile phone subscriptions, only 125 million Indians list English as their language of communication, noted the report.

India's vast population of over 1.2 billion means there are hundreds of dialects including regional languages from the North such as Punjabi, to the East such as Bengali, down South such as Tamil and to the West such as Marathi, just to name a few.

While this make it all the more challenging to design, develop, and deliver mobile apps for the Indian market, it also means a largely untapped and growing segment that is mobile education , or m-education. This sector is dominated by startups across India right up to the big players such as Accenture, IBM, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

I can say this with confidence as I've worked within the education and e-learning industry across India for three years. As time went on, our clients and customers were demanding mobile solutions, and straying away from the traditional formats of computer-based training (CBT), instructor-led training (ILT), and Web-based training (WBT). They wanted courses and full curriculums designed for mobile devices in order to educate and train either students or employees, respectively, either on site or at their own convenience.

That being said, the major issue faced was converting and translating content in English to regional languages. No, Google Translate is not a quick fix solution and should never be attempted for such a project! Instead, an additional team of regional instructional designers (IDs) need to be brought on board so they can carefully do the correct translation from English into Tamil, for example.

With affordable devices such as DataWind's Aakash 2 tablet finally being delivered to the Indian government for distribution to students in a push to close the digital divide, the potential market for e-education will only increase. Rural Indians will benefit and gain the most as traditionally, as they have been cut off by technological advancements found in classrooms in urban settings.