As more Indians opt for high-speed mobile data services, they are accessing news on their smartphones. Much of that is available on Facebook and Twitter. But, while India opts for these services, Bharat prefers accessing news content in vernacular languages. That's the market that DailyHunt, the vernacular aggregator of news tapped. Set up by Virendra Gupta, who spent years in the telecom sector, DailyHunt today offers news in 15 languages including English and Hindi and has 50 million users spending over 6 billion minutes on the service every month.
That number is only going to rise as smartphone usage increases and data services become cheaper. Virendra Gupta, founder and CEO, DailyHunt says, "As the market gets diverse, there is a greater need to personalize content. We need to talk to them in their language." He points out that content has to be curated based on language, strata and states. To do that, Gupta has tied up with 650 publishers to offer personalized content.
With over 155 million downloads of the DailyHunt app, Gupta is on a roll. But, it has not been easy. There were problems while trying to get regional fonts on a smartphone. That problem was solved by a rendering engine that could display local language fonts on most mobile handsets. Considering that the vernacular user may not have an expensive mobile device, it should work on cheaper devices too. The app had to be lightweight, so that more users would download it. DailyHunt kept the app down to 10 MB, and stripped the size of images so that articles could load faster for users in areas where data connectivity was weak.
Gupta and DailyHunt seem to be in the right place at the right time. A KPMG analysis in April 2017 estimates that there will be 735 million internet users in India in 2021, of which 536 million will be users in Indian languages. That's the market that Gupta is targeting.
The DailyHunt offering includes breaking news, news videos, headlines and updates covering politics, sports, business and entertainment. The app lets users to view photos of major events, celebrities and global events.
What Gupta discovered is that downloads have come from across the country, from as many as 4,000 towns. Almost 50 per cent of the users have devices that cost Rs 10,000 or less. Also, among 20-45 year old users, over 60 per cent have devices costing $ 150. It's not that the users are restricted to India alone. Gupta realised that close to 20 per cent of the traffic is coming from outside India, primarily the Middle East.
To cater to the diverse user base, there are 500 genres of content that is on offer. The most highly in demand are entertainment, breaking news, local news and lifestyle issues relating to self-improvement and technology. The focus now is to offer personalized content to users so that the demand for services continues. That however, is a continuing race.