The Dublin Windows Phone Code Camp: A Localization Debrief

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.

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