Map portals trail badly in vernacular content

India has 427 spoken languages and it stands 4th worldwide for maximum number of local languages.

I was pretty surprised to know some of the facts like:

  • Hindi is the 3rd most spoken language worldwide.
  • Bengali is 8th most spoken language worldwide.
  • Punjabi is 11th most spoken language worldwide.

While two of the Indian languages figure in the top 10 charts of the spoken languages worldwide, the interesting and surprising fact is that none of the Indian language figure in the top 10 charts of Internet languages.

Besides this, IAMAI also did a study which found out that total number of internet portals delivering the content in one of the Indian regional language looks to be very demotivating at just 1249.


Above table shows the breakup of the regional content portals across 8 major languages in India.

Language Patterns

While Hindi scored the highest; Tamil, Telugu and Bengali trailed behind by a huge gap.

Marathi has the least number of portals, while population-wise Mumbai is the third largest city in the world. Kannada is as bad as Marathi, being even the silicon valley of India.

Wondering if it is the technology constraint in these cities or that the English domination is much more here?

Category Patterns

Among all the categories, Map portals show the widest gap of delivering the vernacular content. Pretty much the time for GIS/ LBS industry to really think about the masses and get local in real sense; not just for the heck of saying it.

I think it is only Yahoo Maps that provide vernacular content for the Indian region today, while Microsoft and Google are far behind.

Wondering what Rediff, Indiatimes, Sify guys are actually doing in this space? Building their own expertise? If yes, it may be long for them to go vernacular in real sense in the Maps space.

Would love to see what Nokia India is really upto!


3 responses to “Map portals trail badly in vernacular content

  1. Good analysis Piyush!!

    But I am almost at this moment of time some what against, Maps in Indian languages.
    In this analysis, you have no where mentioned the economics factor.. as this is what at the end of the day think.. when you are in business…
    When we really don’t see a potential, in India for navigation and maps not in 5yrs atleast..

    Coming to “vernacular maps” if we have a figure on the status of usage of navigational devices/ maps by individual states.. this can give a good insight.. again this rests with the hardware vendors of navigational devices, which cannot be public.. this can lead us to analysing the trend towards usage of maps/ navigational devices in each state/ language.

    So at this moment of time, it is wise in business sense to stick to English.. as most of the people who have awareness of navigation/ maps have knowledge of English..

  2. Harsha,

    Don’t you think the adoption of a service is also proportional to how useful it is for the consumer and how easily accessible it is?

    Today, if I can browse maps on sub $20 mobile phone, who wouldn’t want to use that?

    IMO, State-wise usage status of navigational devices and maps again can be misleading for the simple reason that they have just begun to be talked about. and it is being pushed to the consumer. There are still no signs for the consumers to be needing them really.

    I think the value chain involved in delivering LBS is stepping towards maturity. Lcation based Ad network is still a gap in the chain. I hope somebody is already working towards it. How important vernacular content be and when is surely a question but then it definitely makes sense to me.

  3. I am amazed with it. It is a good thing for my research. Thanks

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