Indian language Internet user base registered an astonishing growth to 234 million in 2016 from 42 million in 2011, thereby surpassing English users, according to a study by KPMG and Google.
The study, Indian languages – Defining India’s Internet, also projects that Hindi Internet user base is likely to outgrow English user base by 2021.
As per the study, English Internet user base in the country rose to 175 million in 2016 from 68 million in 2011.
The projected user base in English by 2021 is 199 million by which time Indian language Internet user base will grow to an astonishing 536 million, or 75 percent of India’s Internet user base.
Ninety nine percent Indian language users access Internet through mobile devices while the overall share of users accessing Internet via mobile is 78 percent.
Nine out of every ten new Internet users in India over the next five years are likely to be Indian language users.
Indian language users are defined as literate users who prefer primary language to read, write, and converse. The country’s constitution has 22 official languages.
Along with Hindi, Marathi, and Bengali users will drive the volume growth. Tamil, Kannada, and Telugu users will form the major chunk of the most digitally engaged users in the 2016-21 period, as per the study.
Over 90 percent Indian language Internet users access chat applications and digital entertainment.
Digital write-ups, payments, online government services e-tailing, and digital classifieds have been identified by the study as the emerging categories among Indian language users.
The massive penetration of affordable local language-enabled smartphones is also expected to power user generated original content online.
Internet penetration in India is projected to grow by 52 percent in 2021 and 175 million new smartphone users are also projected in the next five years.
The study also reveals that 70 percent Indian language Internet users face difficulties in using English keyboards and 60 percent cited limited language support and content as barriers for them to embrace online services.
Tamil has the highest Internet adoption level at 42 percent, followed by Hindi (49%) Kannada (37%), Bengali and Marathi (34%), Telugu (31%), Gujarati (28%) and Malayalam (27%).
Rural Indian language users registered a higher engagement level of 534 minutes per week compared to 437 minutes for their urban compatriots.
The language users accessing digital payments will also rise to 43 percent by 2021 from 28 percent at present.
Malayalam, Bengali, and Kannada are among the fastest growing language user base of digital entertainment.