(By Apurva Chaudhary & Vikas SN)
Handset maker Samsung has announced that it plans to add 13 Indian languages to its instant messaging service ChatON by the end of 2013. However, it didn’t disclose any specific details on what these languages would be.
ChatON says it currently supports 10 Indian languages, although we weren’t able to find any option to change the language on the Android app or the web app. It is currently available on desktop PCs, Samsung feature phones, Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone, offering multi-screen support on 5 different devices at once on a single Samsung account.
In comparison, One97’s Plustxt currently offers input support for eight Indian languages including Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Malayalam besides English while Gupshup Messenger’s web app offers support for nine Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu. Bharti SoftBank’s Hike and Viber also recently added Hindi support.
Having said that, we doubt that the number of people communicating in Indic languages is high, as it’s still quite difficult to type Indic languages on a phone. While there has been quite a few Indic input initiatives from companies like Google, Swiftkey and Swype, most of them are focused only on providing support for the lowest common denominator – Hindi language. One of the exceptions being KeyPoint Technologies’s Adaptxt which offers support for 11 Indic languages.
ChatON 100 million subscribers: Besides this, Samsung also claimed that ChatON now has global subscriber base of 100 million subscribers. It hasn’t however provided any country wise breakup for this number. Also note that Samsung has not revealed the monthly active user base for the service, which we feel provides a true indication of how the service is actually performing.
We feel registered users metric is a pretty insignificant number for messaging apps since the app comes pre-installed on Samsung devices and users are bound to register for the service out of curiosity and probably forget about it later. Therefore, it doesn’t provide any insight on whether the app is actually being used actively.
That being said, we haven’t noticed any messaging company besides WhatsApp disclosing its monthly active users yet. WhatsApp claimed that it had 20 million monthly active users in India, as of August 2013, while Line claims to have 5 million registered users in India in July 2013 and Bharti-Softbank backed Hike claimed to have 5 million registered users as of April 2013. Tencent’s WeChat doesn’t provide any country-wide breakup of its messaging service but it had claimed to have 70 million overseas users as of July 2013.