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Google ramps up efforts to expand Indian market

The tech giant figures speaking more Indian languages will help it reach out to more Indian users.

Gawrav, Getty Images/Vetta

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or in Google's case, speak the languages they speak.

Heeding that advice, Google has introduced support for nine Indian languages with its Neural Machine Translation technology, the company said in a statement to CNET. This language support will be added to products including Maps, Translate, Chrome and Gboard (Google Keyboard).

Although India recognises 23 official languages, more than 400 languages are spoken in the country today, and only 20 percent of the population is fluent in English.

Bridging the language barrier appears extremely important for Google if it wants to be relevant in the country. According to a recent report conducted with consultancy firm KPMG, Google counted 234 million Indian-language users on the internet compared to 175 million English users. An estimated nine out of 10 users will be Indian language speakers in the coming years, and Hindi speakers are predicted to outnumber users who speak English, it added.

With more than 450 million Indians expected online by June, the market potential is huge. Following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's push for a Digital India and sweeping the country's cash off the streets, tech companies have been flooding the market in a bid to cash in on the economy. Companies such as Microsoft and Twitter have developed "lite" versions of Skype and Twitter apps to cater to slower internet speeds in the country, for instance.

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