This started off as a reply to Ashish's post on viability of Indian languages on the Internet, but was turning incoherent and jumbled up. Here's an attempt to put it all together.
The role of language
Think of the last time you really wanted to abuse someone. Which language was most effective? Recollect the most memorable marketing lines in history. Which languages were they in? This is not because one language is superior or inferior to another. It is just that using your 'own' language significantly impacts the way you think and act.
The role of Internet
Fundamentally, the Internet is just a tool for transmitting information and enabling people to act on this information in real time. Concepts like websites, social media, eCommerce and mobile apps were built using this tool. These concepts evolved in the US. English (and monolingualism) is hard wired into them. To use other languages effectively we need to rethink these concepts from first principles.
The role of startups
Startups are meant to fundamentally rethink the way things are done. And that includes the way languages are used. Till we do that, we can't claim to have tested any hypothesis regarding viability of vernacular language usage. A particularly bad example (unfortunately straight from Reverie's sales pitch) is Snapdeal. "Daily Needs" is mapped using Devnagari script as "Har din ki zaroorat". The first item in the list is "saimsang 16GB maikro ess dee eich ee vee oo kalass 10". Nice. Perhaps we should wait for some real startups trying these things out before passing judgement on using Indian languages?
"Mama, they lied. The streets of New York are not paved with gold. In fact, they expect me to pave them" - an apocryphal letter from a 19th century immigrant on Ellis Island. Startups need to create the path to monetization. If we expect everything to be readily available, we are not running startups.
Current state of rethinking and innovation
We recently had Rahul Yadav, one of the more prominent noises in the Indian startup scene, question the size of India's online market. He had listed a bunch of knock offs of American companies and concluded that the market is very small. Unfortunately, that seems to be representative of overall thinking in India's 'startup' ecosystem.
If this line of thinking is really as prevalent as media coverage suggests, nothing can redeem this ecosystem. We might as well start from scratch. And Indian languages will be at the core of this reboot.