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Tag: tethras

How DO Startups "DO" Localization?

Language in Business, Translation Technology

I asked the audience after my coffee, context and crapplications talk to the International Multilingual User Group  (IMUG) in San Jose, California recently, if anyone had any insights into how the booming startup scene in San Francisco and Silicon Valley approached the localization of products and services. The “how” and “why” of startup L10n, if you like. Indeed, I also asked if such startups even considered L10n or the underlying need for i18n, and so on, at all? We know why startups fail, so wouldn’t localization (or cultural customization) play a key role in addressing such failures?

The risk of asking such questions is that you can be overwhelmed by a rush of localization services sellers coming your way, in all shapes and sizes, all willing to offer a solution on sale. That’s what happened this time. Ironically, some of sellers of localization services turned out, in themselves, to be startups too!

siliconvalley

It’s important, of course, that sellers of such services exist and that they are are willing to reach out to requests for information and to share client success stories. That’s their business.

But, really, the interest a lot of people, myself included, have in the topic of startup localization is about hearing the stories from buyers or users of such services, from the startups themselves. How do they manage things, and why? Do they do it the “foreign language” and “international marketing” enablement stuff on their own? Do they rely on open source or proprietary solutions? Do startups learn from each other? Are there best industry practices they might follow? Are venture capitalists on the look out for localization plans and international growth before funding a startup? Who knows?

This is one great topic I will return to. There was a lot of energy generated by the question at IMUG; I expect this was not a one-off situation! I would love to see one of the industry conferences or meet ups feature startup localization from the startups point of view too.

In the meantime, check out how Airbnb.jp was launched and how Uber expanded to Dubai. And don’t forget about the IMUG meeting on Cloud-based Translation Management Systems For Start-Up LSPs & Freelancers Groups which may throw up some answers too for any startupistas in the audience.

If you have experience in startup localization or related areas and would like to share some thoughts, find the comments.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

IUC44

The Dublin Windows Phone Code Camp: A Localization Debrief

Language Industry News and Events, Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

I attended the Windows Phone (WP) code camp at Microsoft in Dublin, an event organized by the Microsoft Ireland Development and Platform Evangelism (DPE) team and Dublin ALT.NET. One of the great things about my interests profile is that I get to cover user experience (UX), developer relations, localization, and a bunch of other cool stuff, all at the same time. The WP camp was no exception. I guesstimated that between 70 and 80 people turned up.

First up, Josh Holmes of Microsoft gave a quick overview of how to use the WP development environment, pointing out key UX features of the WP7 Metro interface– panning and pivot interactions, for example–and how to integrate geolocation, web services (no, nothing on Microsoft Translator, sadly), and so on. Microsoft has done a great job with Metro and I cannot wait to play with it in the field.

Lumia 800 with Windows Phone 7 Metro UX. Picture taken in Vodafone store in Dublin, Ireland.

Lumia 800 with Windows Phone Metro UX. Picture taken in Vodafone store in Dublin, Ireland.

Then, it was the turn of Matthew M. Gonzales (@matthewgonzales) of Irish cloud-based, localization as a service, solution Tethras to talk about the localization of mobile apps and global market trends. Some points that sunk home for me from the localization discussion were:

  • There’s a relatively low breakeven dollar point for localization of apps, and developers need to sell less than three dozen to turn a profit.
  • Don’t forget to localize the app store or market place description for the app. In fact this appears to constitute the bulk of the cost (marketing people, huh?).
  • Apps developers really do have to know their market and strategize accordingly. For example, in Brazil and Korea whatever the potential and strength of the app market, most users will not pay for gaming apps. In Japan, localization is hypercritical; so don’t forget to localize pictures of people, icons, and so on. Oh, don’t forget the potential offered by Nordic markets, either.
  • All the major platforms of interest to mobile apps developers are internationalized and provide for localization. It’s the app’s resources that are localized, so there aren’t 30 versions of the app executable being distributed. Windows Phone is no exception, and furthermore there are some very useful style and terminology guidelines available from Microsoft for the more serious-minded developer.

Later, I chatted with some app developers about localization. Their main concern was not about cost but knowing local markets and whether their localized app would take off without being blessed by some international viral campaign. Perhaps, there’s an opportunity for some innovator to address that. An additional service of localizing targeted collateral for integration into a localized communications ecosystem of tweets, recommendations, shared links, and so on, maybe?

On a more general point, I love attending these events and talking with others and watching what’s going down. I believe that for language technology to make any real headway where it matters economically–with individual developers and with small and medium enterprises and innovation–then it needs to start making an appearance at events like WP code camps, amongst others.

Thank you Microsoft DPE and Dublin ALT.NET for making this happen. And, what a wonderful building Microsoft employees have as a workplace in Dublin. I was deeply jealous!

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

Localization Services Industry: Does It Scale Down?

Language in the News, Translation Technology

I visited Macworld 2011 in San Francisco. The event was dominated by mobile apps for iPhone and iPad and accessories (there was some stuff about music and television too). It was clear to me that the barriers to innovation in the mobile space are now very low, and apps can be developed easily by individuals rather than companies.

From a localization (translation) industry perspective what does this mean? Can traditional model LSPs scale down to one or two small jobs from individual developers? Do such developers even want to deal with LSPs? Talking with developers onsite at the event, their answer was “No”. Plus, large LSPs cannot plan around micro-development, predict demand and, given their overheads, will probably lose money on the job. Sure, they could roll up the little jobs into a supply chain, but what does that mean for the customer relationship with individual developers or localization quality? Probably not a great experience for developers.

That’s why it’s great to see cloud-based disintermediation localization options like Ireland’s Tethras (offices in Silicon Valley and Dublin) at places like Macworld. Tethras have already localized some very impressive apps for iPad and iPhone, and also some Mac apps themselves. Great disruptive solution, well positioned to match the mobile space’s innovation model.

Tethras have localized 3D4Medical’s apps into seven languages.

You can read more about disintermediation and disruption in the localization industry on Kirti Vashee’s blog.

Your thoughts about the matter? Find the comments.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Mobile Apps Localization, Irish Style, Apple Style

Language in the News, Language Industry News and Events

I always enjoy Lucy Kellaway’s articles in the Financial Times. She’s a smart writer, with a quick, sharp sense of irreverent humor combined with common sense,  making the coverage of the world of business eminently readable.  Her recent “Words to describe the glory of Apple” (podcast version for the registration-averse reader) addressed the issue of language in business, focusing on the style used by Apple in its App Store Review Guidelines (PDF version), aimed at developers of mobile applications.

These guidelines are insightful in themselves (as indeed are Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for the iPhone) for what they say about language quality. They place the emphasis on usability rather than professional linguistic quality, adherence to official terminology glossaries, style guidelines, and the rest. Language quality in its own right is not a  criterion for app acceptance. The market – the user – ultimately decides.  As far as I know, localized Apple apps are subject to an in-country review instead of a US one, but it doesn’t seem that professional linguistic acceptance checks for style and terminology come into play for those versions either.

This is important for the vast majority of mobile application developers, be they for Apple, Android or other platforms. Contrary to what you might hear, you simply do not need to engage with professional linguists and expensive, complicated, slow translation processes that center around complicated language quality assistance to get your localized app to market. What app developers do need is the means to quickly and easily connect with translators who are talented, motivated,  interested, mobile app savvy and who can use tools to turn around an effective translation that can get that app to the market place or app store as quickly as possible for international users.

Mobile app developers can look to the Irish technology company Tethras (offices in Dublin, Ireland and Silicon Valley) for such a service. This is a smart, cloud-based solution for global mobile app developers to get their development efforts to the international market easily. Sparkle Apps have already used Tethras for translating their Jigsaw Box iPad app and report that doing so clearly showed a spike in global sales, confirming other findings.

Remember that most app development isn’t a large-scale effort, undertaken by large teams in huge enterprises, but instead by interested, motivated entrepreneurs working remotely, often working alone. They have no clue about the difference between “localization”, “translation”, “transcreation” or the rest of the traditional GILT industry mechanics. And why should they? Who needs a language service provider to charge you for the creation of localized terms for “fart” anyway?

Watch out for more about Tethras and Irish mobile apps localization in a forthcoming article in Multilingual.

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+ posts

Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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