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    A customer selects his number of Reliance Jio Infocomm 4G mobile services in Mumbai on September 6, 2016

    Indian Languages Edge Out English in Cyber Space

    © AFP 2017/ INDRANIL MUKHERJEE
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    Indians preferred their own languages to access news about Bollywood and celebrities. English content readers opted for entertainment news, technology and sports. But future growth is in Indian langauges.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio 4G service launched last year was the most searched keyword by mobile users. It left behind star cricketer Virat Kohli and top Bollywood actor Salman Khan, according to the 2016 mobile trends report released by Alibaba group firm UC News.

    "Reliance Jio is the ‘hottest keyword' of 2016 with 116 million page views in both Hindi and English content. All services including voice calls and data are free in a scenario where telecom companies are struggling to provide faster and deeper connectivity," said the UC News report.

    Quantico star and Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra has emerged as the most popular female actor among English readers with 8 million views while another Bolllywood star Kareena Kapoor Khan scored with the Hindi-reading audience with 45 million views, the report said.

    What's remarkable is the five-time rise in Hindi content readership on mobile phones compared to English news content, according to UC Browser.

    Hindi content with Bollywood news and celebrities clocked the highest page views followed by news topics. Entertainment news was high in demand by English content readers followed by technology and sports. India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh also led in the highest consumption for current news followed by Maharashtra and Delhi, the report said.

    Another interesting aspect was the increase in readership of content from self-publishers and key opinion leaders.

    The consumption of English and Hindi content may be rising but many industry watchers are also betting on the rise of regional language-driven content as India prepares to digitalize its economy and enhance smart phone penetration.

    But businesses will have to account for its linguistic diversity to target the world's second most populous market as it increasingly goes online. Indians speak 22 official languages (meaning state authorities use these languages for official business) and about 122 languages are considered "major" as they are widely widely.

    Many companies have already launched apps in regional languages to tap the dormant market. There were more than 460 million internet users in India as of July 2016. The numbers may appear impressive but that is only about a third of the nation's population. Local language users are only one-third of total Internet users but their numbers are bound to grow as India improves its digital connectivity.

    The Narendra Modi Government's Digital India Campaign, supported by some of the world's IT behemoths such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others, aims to step up internet connectivity and consequently increase the consumption of content on the Internet.

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    cyberspace, Mukesh Ambani, India
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