Top 10 World Languages and the Internet

Purnendu Chatterji intrigued me today by saying, that Bengali is the 5th largest
spoken language in the world. Well, I looked it up …

1. Mandarin: 1 Billion+
2. English: 508 Million
3. Hindi: 497 Million
4. Spanish: 392 Million
5. Russian: 277 Million
6. Arabic: 246 Million
7. Bengali: 211 Million
8. Portuguese: 191 Million
9. Malay-Indonesian: 159 Million
10. French: 129 Million

Here are the languages that just barely missed the list (from the most popular
to the least): German, Japanese, Urdu, Punjabi, Korean, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi,
Cantonese, Wu, Vietnamese, Javanese, Italian, Turkish, Tagalog, and Thai.

Why do we care?

Because, the Media industry is moving online, and a question that is looming
large: what other languages besides the obvious ones like Mandarin, need major
Internet presence? The list above starts to provide some indicators …

Key question to answer: Which of these languages have sustainable (a) Internet
Presence (b) Online Advertising Pull behind them?

Today, English, Mandarin, French, and Spanish have traction. German and Italian
also have some Internet presence.

Big languages like Hindi and Bengali, by virtue of the fact that they belong to
a largely bilingual population that is fluent in English – have little adoption.

Even online advertising dollars are largely limited to North American target
audiences, with a small bit of traction in the UK and Western Europe. No one
wants to advertise to audiences in Brazil or Russia.

It would be interesting to watch how the game changes in the next decade.

Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Strategy Consultant Sramana Mitra writes about
Entrepreneurship, Business Strategy, Emerging Technology, Market Moves, and
sundry other topics in her Blog “Sramana Mitra on Strategy”. Read more of her
writings at

2 thoughts on “Top 10 World Languages and the Internet

  1. You blog gives a very good information on indian lanuages. Languages have no life as such, when we speak it becomes alive. We have millions of languages. Let us save this treasure for the coming generation. Monopoly of one language will destroy the vivid colours of native cultures.