With Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu having been launched earlier, this means that Google now allows users to search in 8 major Indian languages. We had earlier written about the launch of Google News in Tamil, and also about the company integrating Google News in Hindi with English, for users accessing the service from India. Note in the image below that Google’s Indic Language Search uses transliteration and suggests words being searched.
While Google remains the dominant search engine in India, Internet usage in India has largely been limited to English speaking and bilingual users. Depending on which market research report you read, Internet users in India range from 35 million to 45 million, but broadband connectivity is abysmally low at around 4.5 million connections.
Rediff’s Language Search
Rediff’s Language Search, which they first mentioned in an earnings release last year, is also live, in beta, here. They’re currently offering search in the same languages as Google – in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati, Bengali and Kannada, though I quite like the fact that they’ve got a single, integrated search bar for languages, unlike in case of Google, where I’m not sure of how one will discover the language page.
Rediff’s Language search also uses transliteration, probably powered by Quillpad. Rediff had acquired a minority stake in Bangalore based Tachyon, which has developed Quillpad. Rediff’s language search is in Beta, and you can give them feedback here. We’ve written earlier about the number of search products that Rediff is working on, and I wonder how they’ll integrate all the alternatives in their homepage.
How Important Is Indic Language Search?
Industry insiders in the Indic language space whom we’ve spoken to, expectedly, believe that next phase of growth is going to be driven by Indic languages, but no one can really tell when that will happen. Search is expected to play a critical role in this growth, enabling content discovery; content drives usage. As far as we know, Indic language search is being provided by: Google, Rediff, Webdunia, Guruji, and Raftaar.
Of course, what eventually matters is the accuracy of the search, as much as the number of languages you cover: search becomes even more critical for content discovery when you’re faced with a problem unique to India – of having 22 official languages.
Important: One key problem that we’ve been told about is of sites not using Unicode fonts for Indic language content – many publications going online tend to use government supported CDAC fonts, which have issues with indexing, and do not render unless installed separately. So if you’re planning an Indic language site – use Unicode.
Note: If we’ve missed any Indic language search engines, please do let us know in the comments. We’ll update accordingly.
— Google News And Indic Language Initiatives; Launches News In Tamil
— Rediff.com’s Search For Search: Video, Buses, Local Language, SMS
— Chandamama Launches Hindi, Tamil And Telugu Portals; Archives Inaccessible
— Guruji Now Launches Music Search; What’s Next?