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Hindi version of Android?

Samsung and Google are planning to develop a Hindi version of Android operating system.

Samsung is in talks with Google for a Hindi version of Android operating system, an executive of the Korean company told The Mobile Indian.

Android currently supports the major European languages and Chinese, but there is no Hindi version of the OS even though it is one of the most popular smartphone operating systems in India.

On this, Asim Warsi, director of marketing of Samsung’s mobile business, said, “Android is a third party operating system and so we do not have much control over it, but we are in talks with Google for such a version. However, we can’t comment on when it will be done as that is not in our control.”

A Google spokesperson, however, refused to comment, saying, “We do not comment on rumour and speculation.”

It is surprising that even though Hindi is the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world, Android or any other major smartphone OS doesn’t have a version of it. Although there are feature phone operating systems in Hindi from both MNCs and Indian brands, the problem is that the letters on the keyboard are usually in English.

Of the population of India, only 11 per cent speak English, mostly for professional reasons. Add to that the fact that India is the world’s fastest growing mobile market with more than 540 million active mobile users, and some studies suggest that close to 15 per cent of these people are smartphone users.

More than 200 million handsets are sold in India annually and keep in mind that only about 11 per cent of these consumers, or 22 million users, know English. This explains why the consumption of value added services in India is so low.

So it is not just in the consumer’s interest to have handsets in the Indian language; operators and the content industry will profit by it as well.

While there are indeed many languages in India, most of these languages use derivatives of the Devanagari script.

Even languages like Bengali, which has more than 300 million users and is the sixth most commonly spoken language in the world, should not be ignored.

When support for languages with a much smaller number of speakers, such as Polish and Korean, is available, it is not a valid argument that support for Indian languages cannot be developed.

Moreover, since touchscreen phones do not use physical keyboards, manufacturers can create virtual keyboards for many languages and the user can select his/her language from a drop down menu.

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