English is no longer a deterrent for optimum user experience

Interview/ Bhanu Pratap Singh, co-founder & chief technology officer, ShareChat

52-bhanu Bhanu Pratap Singh | Bhanu Prakash Chandra

Q/Recently, Indian language users overtook Indians accessing the internet in English. What does it signify?

A/Industry analysts have been predicting this development for a long time, as India is dominated by language-first citizens. As more than 500 million new internet users are expected to be added in the next three to four years, we believe more than 90 per cent would come from non-English backgrounds.

During the initial days, people used to learn English to access the internet. The trend has been reversed. Now the internet is coming to the users with platforms that users would be comfortable with. English is no longer a deterrent for optimum user experience.

In the past few years, the internet has been democratised and is available even in the most remote parts of the country. Lower data rates, increasing penetration and easier access to smartphones have fuelled this trend. Increasingly the internet ecosystem has become more Indian language enabled. This signifies a shifting trend that is expected to continue in the years to come.

Q/What does it signify going forward? What are the spaces where we need further tech/user advancements?

A/With more Indian language users joining the internet we need to make sure that our product capabilities are upgraded to engage these next billion internet users. As we are leading the social media space in Indic languages, it is necessary for us to strengthen our artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities that are critical to our products’ success. At ShareChat, our aim is to understand the content on our platforms and give our community a personalised feed relevant to their interests.

Semantically understanding content in natural languages and connecting it with the relevant content genres across interest graphs require cutting edge technological capabilities to function across 15 Indic languages, which have their own complexities and scripts. We are leading the next level of development for our camera tech function, by unlocking features that include building newer technologies. These will be focused around augmented reality experiences, creating lenses, filters, stickers, live-streaming video content capabilities and other technical expertise. These enhanced features will equip our community to create highly innovative, vibrant and engaging content across ShareChat and Moj.

Q/Will further advancements in the Indic internet space come from Big Tech, or will homegrown entrepreneurs lead the innovation?

A/The Indian internet market is bustling with opportunities at the moment. The landscape offers a huge potential that is evident to all the players. While homegrown entrepreneurs understand the nerve of the market completely, the Big Tech companies come with a technological dominance that is unmatched in the market by small players. Therefore, we need to complement each other’s strength to build India for the future.