To reassure its users in India that HTC is fully committed to giving them what they want, the company will launch a Hindi user interface in the coming months.
Darren Sng, senior director of product marketing in Asia at HTC, said to The Mobile Indian, “By December, HTC will launch a Hindi user interface for its smartphones running on Android and after that we would be launching patches for other Indian languages like Bengali, Oriya and so on in phased manner.”
He further added, “When we launch the Hindi update patch, people will be able to download it through the company’s website via a computer. Besides, we are in talks with operators for providing the Hindi update patch over the air to HTC phone users.”
After downloading the Hindi patch HTC users will be able to surf the menu and type messages in Hindi using a Hindi keyboard.
This is an interesting move by HTC to connect with its consumers because Google’s Android 2.2 currently supports only the major European languages and Chinese, but there is no Hindi version of the OS even though Android is one of the most popular smartphone operating systems in India.
Even though the latest version of Android, version 2.3, has addressed this issue, Hindi support is only for surfing the menu and not for typing a message as there is no language support for the keyboard.
It is surprising that even though Hindi is the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world, Android and other major smartphone operating systems don’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 548 million active mobile users. Some studies even suggest that close to 15 per cent of these people use smartphones.
More than 200 million handsets are sold in India annually and only about 11 per cent of these consumers, or 22 million users, know English. This explains why the consumption of value added services is so low in India.
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.