The biggest barrier for adoption of smartphones in India now is language. A lot of people, who have the ability to buy a smartphone, prefer not to, because they are intimidated by the use of English on these devices. Feature phones are icon based and easier for people who look at the Queen’s language as Greek.
Firstouch, a Mumbai-based company founded by IIT graduates, has launched what they call the world’s first regional smartphone which can translate and transliterate text in Gujarati to English and vice-versa with just a swipe. Priced at Rs 5,999, the Firstouch A10 is entry-level Android Jelly Bean smartphone powered by a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU on a 4-inch screen.
The phone is simple to use and users can switch to an icon-based Firstouch interface which is easier to use for those not used to smartphones. Here all the text is in Gujarati. In case, you get a text in English, the user can just swipe on the text to translate it into Gujarati. The same works for outgoing text too. The entire process is as simple as it gets. The rest of the phone is what you would expect from any Android phone in this price range.
“Our market research established that Gujarati’s are far more enterprising and ready to experiment with new products in the market. Our existing relationship also helped us to get quick access to the market in Gujarat,” explained Co-founder & CEO Rakesh Deshmukh on why he chose the language first. The company is promising versions in other Indian languages after they launch the Hindi and Marathi smartphone.
Quoting an IDC report, Deshmkuh said the next 500 million subscribers will come from the rural market. “If any company has to penetrate this segment of market then it will be possible only with regional offering. Firstouch’s vision is to bridge digital divide in India by bringing language based technologies integrated with operating system,” he said.
The company hopes its customised Regional Language Android operating system will play a most pivotal role in propelling this growth.
While the company wants to cover all leading languages in the country by 2015, it also plans to launch 10 models of Firstouch regional smartphones priced between Rs 3,500 and Rs 12.500 in the next one year.