Bangalore, February 25 2014: Consider what the first ever search engine-cum-platform aggregating web content in Hindi, Raftaar.in has achieved since it went live in 2005:
-First to convert Hindi font from ASCII to Unicode and vice versa.
-First to introduce a phonetic keyboard and online Hindi Thesaurus.
-First to index and make searchable both Unicode and non-Unicode content.
-First and only portal to allow search for Hindi songs in Devanagri script.
-First to introduce Devanaagri content search using Roman script.
Co-founded by Peeyush Bajpai and Laveesh Bhandari and developed by their sister enterprise and research firm Indicus Analytics, Raftaar today boasts 8.5 million page-views and 2.5 million unique visitors every month.... justifying the founders' hunch which Peeyush spelled out in a briefing for IndiaTechOnline last week: “The next wave of internet usage in India, will be substantially driven by the Non-English, vernacular space."
The challenge adds Peeyush,is trying to bridge the gap between a localized user and rich and largely untapped language content. The other reality is that the average user in Hindi may not be computer literate or even comfortable with English usage. On the other hand there are many potential users out there who need to find Hindi content but are challenged by having to key in their query in devanagiri script.
Raftaar's sensible interfaces -- providing the option of making Hindi searches in either devanagiri or in roman script, together with a phonetic keyboard and an online Hindi thesaurus -- try to address all possible user hassles with simple solutions.
With global search engines tending to favour the lean-mean and sparse look, Raftaar decided to go in the other direction: where the search function is embedded in a larger content aggregation portal. "We don't create any content ourselves, but by aggregating massive amounts of information, we create a rich "discovery" platform, which is more suited to what the target user needs."
Eighty percent of Indians don't speak English, Peeyush reminds, yet Online search and information resources are overwhelmingly in English. Raftaar recognizes the reality -- as its name would suggest -- and is speeding to fill the gap.
Read a recent article by Peeyush Bajpai: Brands' future lies in vernacular search here