Corante

About this Author
CORANTE John Yunker is founder of Byte Level Research and author of the widely acclaimed book, Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies and editor of Global By Design.

He has covered the emerging field of Web globalization for half a decade and has published a wide range of reports dedicated to best practices in Web localization and internationalization.
About this blog
Going Global focuses on the risks and rewards of expanding into new geographic and cultural markets, from Web globalization to international marketing to global usability.
Global By Design

The official newsletter of the Web globalization revolution.
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November 24, 2006

Why Is Web Globalization So Popular? Just Look at the Numbers...

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Posted by John Yunker

I was happy to see a press release from comScore Networks illustrating in raw numbers what many Webmasters have been telling me privately over the years -- that more than half of their Web traffic is coming from outside of the US.

The comScore study found that "14 of the top 25 U.S. Web properties attract more traffic from people outside the U.S. than from within."

What comScore did was look at total traffic numbers for these Web sites and then split out US-only visitors to get at the percentage of non-US visitors.

Which sites have the most non-US visitors?

Google and Wikipedia

Roughly 80% of their visitors live outside the US, a percentage that will only increase in the years ahead.

This trend is a major reason why multinationals have been investing heavily in Web localization. That's where all the growth is.

And it's not sheer coincidence that the top two ranked global Web sites in our 2006 Web Globalization Report Card also happen to be Google and Wikepedia. These two properties came out on top because they have done the most to attract a global audience. Both Google and Wikipedia support more than a hundred languages and offer a wealth of localized content within those languages.

Will companies like Nike and Starbucks one day support more than a hundred languages on their Web sites?

Possibly.

Forty languages?

Absolutely. It's just a matter of time -- and a matter of numbers.

I'll leave you with a parting quote from comScore:

“As Internet usage outside the U.S. has grown rapidly from a small base, the U.S. share of the world’s online population has fallen from 65 percent to less than 25 percent in the last 10 years,” said Bob Ivins, managing director of comScore Europe. “The fact that more than three-quarters of the traffic to Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft is now coming from outside of the U.S. is indicative of what a truly global medium the Internet has become.”

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November 14, 2006

Authors Thinking Globally

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Posted by John Yunker

While J.K. Rowling may have the most global of author Web sites, you don't have to be a billionaire author to develop one these days.

Here's an excerpt from theMiami Herald on one author's adventures in Web globalization:

Publicity departments are too small and stretched too thin,'' author Joseph Finder (High Crimes, Company Man, Paranoia) said in a telephone interview from his Boston office.
...
''I paid for my website [josephfinder.com], hired someone to design it and someone else to run it. It's impossible to gauge, but I see more and more response from reviewers, journalists and booksellers, and readers communicate with me, too,'' he said. ``Everyone likes to get inside information and have a connection.''

Making that connection also includes putting up special websites in countries where his books sell especially well, such as the Netherlands.

The Web globalization market for new and established authors could make a nice niche for some enterprising translation agency...

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November 7, 2006

Successful Ecommerce in Four Seconds (or less)

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Posted by John Yunker

Jupiter Research and Akamai have published a free report that reminds retailers that a fast-loading Web site still matters.

Says the Tekrati article, "Four seconds is the maximum length of time an average online shopper will wait for a Web page to load before potentially abandoning a retail site."

A slow-loading site is second only to high prices in turning away potential shoppers.

A fast-loading Web site is as much a part of a company's brand as the products it sells.

This issue is even more of an issue for companies that support Web sites in countries that don't have widespread broadband penetration. Should a company use the same bandwidth-hungry Web site in Brazil, with less than 10% broadband penetration, that it uses within the US?

This is a question every company must ask as it goes global.

A company's Web localization strategy must take into account the Internet connection speed of the target users. And it also must take into account that Google is successful in many markets outside the US, which means that users around the world have come to expect lightweight, fast-loading Web sites.

For the 2006 Web Globalization Report Card, we "weighed" the home pages of 300 global Web sites. While this does not take into account whether or not that company relies on a partner like Akamai to accelerate Web content delivery, it does shed light on which companies have done the most on their end to keep their Web sites fast-loading. So here are the top 10:

1 Google (www.google.com)
2 Kijiji (www.kijiji.com)
3 Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue (www.jonesday.com)
4 PayPal www.paypal.com)
5 Wyeth (www.wyeth.com)
6 Manpower (www.manpower.com)
7 AT&T (www.att.com0
8 ST Microelectronics (www.st.com)
9 John Deere (www.deere.com)
10 National (www.national.com)

Google came in at just 13 kilobytes. Most Web sites average around 175 kilobytes. A few of the sites we measured, we won't name names, came in at more than a megabyte each.

So if you want to provide a fast-loading Web site, keep it under 150 kilobytes to keep it ahead of the pack. These top 10 Web sites all came in under 100 kilobytes.

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November 4, 2006

Happy Bilingual Holidays!

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Posted by John Yunker

Toys 'R' Us has released its top 5 toy trends for the 2006 holiday season and trend number two was nice to see...

Trend #2: Bilingual Toys
Catering to the growing demand for products that promote dual language skills among children, toys that boast English and Spanish capabilities have gained momentum this year. Leading the list of bilingual toys for the toddler set are the Learn and Groove(TM) Alphabet Drum and the Learn and Groove(TM) Musical Table from LeapFrog®, both of which introduce the alphabet and encourage physical movement, vocalization and musical exploration in both English and Spanish. Taking a cue from two popular Nickelodeon programs, Fisher-Price® has introduced toys based on the adventures of Dora the Explorer(TM) and Go, Diego, Go!(TM) The Go, Diego, Go!(TM) Diego's Talking Rescue Center lets children go on rescue missions with Diego and his animal friends, while providing commentary from Diego in both English and Spanish. Dora the Explorer(TM) Magic Hair(TM) Fairytale Dora allows kids to imagine whisking Dora away on adventures through magical lands while she offers them encouragement in English and Spanish. The Pink Nitro Notebook(TM) from VTech® features Spanish language activities for developing readers.

How long before we begin seeing English <> Chinese toys as well?

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Unicode 5.0: The Book

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Posted by John Yunker

unicode_5.gif
According to the press release, Unicode 5.0 is now in print and "available at booksellers everywhere."

According to Amazon the book is still in pre-order stage. And I'm curious to know if Amazon is serious about the free shipping option -- after all, this book weighs in at a whopping 1,400 pages!

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October 26, 2006

The Transcultural CEO

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Posted by John Yunker

Quote from the dean of INSEAD, Frank Brown:

"The world's next generation of leaders must have transcultural skills. They need to have an appreciation and understanding of cultures, and know, for instance, how to relate and behave when they walk off a plane. This is a well-honed skill, not a crash-and-burn exercise."

From Chief Executive Magazine.

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Happy Bilingual Holidays!

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Posted by John Yunker

Toys 'R' Us has released its top 5 toy trends for the 2006 holiday season and trend number two was nice to see...

Trend #2: Bilingual Toys
Catering to the growing demand for products that promote dual language skills among children, toys that boast English and Spanish capabilities have gained momentum this year. Leading the list of bilingual toys for the toddler set are the Learn and Groove(TM) Alphabet Drum and the Learn and Groove(TM) Musical Table from LeapFrog®, both of which introduce the alphabet and encourage physical movement, vocalization and musical exploration in both English and Spanish. Taking a cue from two popular Nickelodeon programs, Fisher-Price® has introduced toys based on the adventures of Dora the Explorer(TM) and Go, Diego, Go!(TM) The Go, Diego, Go!(TM) Diego's Talking Rescue Center lets children go on rescue missions with Diego and his animal friends, while providing commentary from Diego in both English and Spanish. Dora the Explorer(TM) Magic Hair(TM) Fairytale Dora allows kids to imagine whisking Dora away on adventures through magical lands while she offers them encouragement in English and Spanish. The Pink Nitro Notebook(TM) from VTech® features Spanish language activities for developing readers.

How long before we begin seeing English <> Chinese toys as well?

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September 26, 2006

News Localization: Sometimes The Truth Hurts

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Posted by John Yunker

Thanks to fellow Mizzou J-school graduate Matt Hilburn for pointing this out. If you visit the home page of Newsweek.com, you'll see the front pages of this week's issue from around the world, as shown here...
newsweek_covers.gif

Outside the US, the lead story is Afghanistan. Inside the US, the lead story is an entertainment piece on Annie Leibovitz.

Is Annie Leibovitz more important to US readers than Afghanistan?

Newsweek execs would probably say in their defense that they have simply localized the US edition for the needs and wants of this market. After all, Americans get enough negative daily news.

Annie Leibovitz will likely move more issues off the newstand than a war that is not going particularly well these days. And those folks who buy the Annie Leibovitz issue will still get the Afghanistan feature -- which is an end that should justify the means.

Localization is, after all, about adapting your product to the needs and wants of your customers. However, when this product is news, everything gets a bit more complicated.

The plain and simple truth is that newspapers and news magazines have become more and more like People Magazine. And, sometimes, the truth hurts.

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September 22, 2006

China and Japan: So Close But Yet So Far

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Posted by John Yunker

The Pew Global Attitudes Project recently conducted a survey of citizens of Japan, China, Pakistan, and India.

Conclusion: These people don't like each other all that much.

Between contested territories, painful histories, and the simple fact that neighbors often make the best enemies, I guess none of this should come as a surprise.

Here are the numbers for China and Japan:
asia_survey.gif

These numbers may be a little intimidating to Japanese companies hoping to win over Chinese consumers, who are among the most coveted consumers on this planet these days. But they must also pose a challenge to Chinese companies with aspirations of becoming global brands, such a Lenovo and Haier and Chery.

Or, perhaps none of this matters as much anymore when it comes to building a global brand -- brands are increasingly created, managed, and (to a growing extent) viewed as distinct from their countries of origin.

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September 18, 2006

Baidu vs. Google: Round Two

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Posted by John Yunker

Google vs. Baidu is the heavyweight battle of the Chinese Internet market. And a lot of media coverage is being devoted to analyzing this fight. Based on what's out there now, Baidu has won round one. The question now is whether Google on the ropes or simply pacing itself...

The New York Times posted a good article Sunday on Baidu's emergence as China's leading search engine -- despite the expensive efforts of Google and Yahoo!.

Here are some key excerpts...


In addition, analysts say, entrepreneurs in China have a knack for pummeling American Internet giants. “The globally dominant U.S. Internet companies have failed to take the No. 1 market share position in any category,” says Jason D. Brueschke, a Citigroup analyst, of the Chinese market. “And they came with more money and major brand names. And so there’s something fundamentally different about this market.”

So fundamentally different, Mr. Brueschke believes, that Baidu will retain its hammerlock on the Chinese search industry. “The real battle in the competitive landscape is not about who’s No. 1, it’s about who’s going to be No. 2,” he says.

I was surprised to find in the article that Baidu began using pay-per-click adwords before Google -- something I had assumed Google pioneered. However, Baidu clearly did coopt Google's famously spare design:

baidu_home.jpg


So why is Baidu dominating the search market in China? According to the article...


Analysts say Baidu is playing to a different audience than Western Internet companies because the Chinese are far more interested in entertainment than news, books or car rental rates. “The fact is 70 percent of China’s Internet users are under the age of 30,” says Richard Ji, an analyst with Morgan Stanley. “Most of them are single, only children. They’re looking for entertainment.”

That may explain why China’s dominant Internet companies are all entertainment focused, like Tencent (which hosts online communities and instant messaging) and Netease and Shanda (which are online gaming sites).

The article concludes on a positive note for Google and a "challenges still remain for Baidu." Google has been more successful at generating revenues than Baidu.

But The Red Herring paints a much darker picture of Google's prospects in China, saying:


The Mountain View, California-based Google has lost significant share in the three largest Chinese markets of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, while Beijing-based Baidu has gained substantial ground and a commanding market share lead.

In Beijing, the only city for which detailed results were made available, Baidu’s market share rose by 13 percent from one year ago to 65.4 percent, the survey showed. Google fell by 12.3 percent, from 32.9 percent to 20.6 percent.

And the article proposes its reason for Google's declining market share...


Questions on overall satisfaction with major search providers revealed that users in China are “unhappy about the speed of Google,” said Mr. Lü, and with penalty time-outs that Chinese ISPs impose on users when they search for sensitive search terms.

These issues prompted Google to launch a China-hosted version of its site at Google.cn, drawing fire from free speech advocates and members of the U.S. Congress. But according to Mr. Lü, “only about 3 percent of Google users in China are using the Google.cn website. Most are using Google.com,” he said, referring to the U.S.-hosted, uncensored version.

China imposes tight restrictions on bandwidth for traffic entering the country, which means that any Web site hosted outside of China is going to load more slowly than sites hosted within China. It's another way to control content and force companies to invest in the market. But I find it interesting that the Chinese version of Google.com is holding its own against Google.cn.

My theory on Baidu's success?

I think that both articles are correct, but I also think nationalism is playing into Baidu's success. The Chinese may covet German cars and French fashions but they are also loyal to home-grown success stories -- and Baidu is the poster child.

That said, Google took over the world in about six years -- there is still plenty of time left for it to take over China. But give credit to Baidu for soundly winning round one.

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September 13, 2006

Beyoncé Beyond Borders

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Posted by John Yunker

Global superstars, like global companies, are realizing that it's not enough to launch an English-only Web site. If you want to truly speak to the world you need a multilingual Web site.

Take Beyoncé.

Even though her songs are in English her Web site has been localized, to varying degree, for eight countries.

beyonce_home.jpg

This site is clearly a work in progress. Flags are used for navigation and the French and Italian flags don't work yet. And why they used "Holland" instead of "Netherlands" seems a bit odd -- perhaps it was a spacing decision.The local sites do not use a global design template, which would have made for an easier rollout of the new album promotional elements.

Still, there are some nice touches. For instance, the Japanese site features an interview using Japanese subtitles. And if you visit the German site you'll find a link to iTunes Germany to purchase songs.

Beyoncé Germany
beyonce_de.jpg

Now, because this is a link to the German iTunes store, you'll need a German user account to make a purchase. For those of us in the US, we're going to see this little error message if we select the link...

beyonce_de_itunes.jpg

Why can't iTunes sell songs across borders? Because the record industry won't allow it. Although Beyoncé is ahead of most of her peers in Web globalization, there are still some limits to how far you can go.

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September 5, 2006

SDL On Track to be a $200 Million Company in 2007

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Posted by John Yunker

SDL announced interim financials today, showing 34% growth over 2005 and bringing the company in at roughly US$170 million this year.

At this rate, the company stands to break the $200 million barrier in '07.

SDL released a few details on who's buying their software/services...

  • New enterprise customer agreements with AGCO, Dell, and FedEx
  • Desktop software market share increased to over 90% of translation industries’ professionals, with more than 130,000 installations
  • Knowledge-based Translation Solution customer wins include HP, Computer Associates, and Microsoft

The Knowledge-based Translation Solution integrates machine translation (MT) software into the mix, another sign that we're going to see A LOT of activity on the MT front in the years ahead.

No mention of how SDL's new certification program is doing. Could be too early to say. Certification in this industry -- from software to services -- is a topic I plan to write about more in the months ahead. There certainly appears to be a need for it.

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August 30, 2006

德尔 vs. 戴尔: Dell Loses Trademark Suit in China

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Posted by John Yunker

According to The Beijing News, via Rich Kuslan's blog, Dell lost a suit against a research institute over the fact that its name sounds too much like Dell's transliterated name.

Transliterated?

If this term is new to you, it is "phonetic translation" -- such as creating a name in Chinese that, when spoken, sounds just like your brand name when spoken in English. It is especially important that the resulting text convey a positive meaning -- or at least not a negative meaning.

Any multinational that has long-term consumer market aspirations in China needs to transliterate its name so it can better promote itself -- and better protect itself. And you can register this transliterated name as a Chinese-language URL.

But transliteration can be a very tricky business. Pacific Epoch writes briefly about this Dell suit; the two names in question certainly appear similar in English -- De Er vs. Dai Er -- but not too similar, according to the powers that be.

Sometimes a company will mis-translate as it rushes to enter a market. KFC and Pepsi have provided two humorous examples. According to this article on the art of transliteration: KFC’s “finger-lickin’ good” slogan entered the China market as “eat your fingers off”. Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” spent a short time in Taiwan as “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead” before the F&B giant went into damage control."

Such is the crazy, complex world of transliteration and IP protection in the Wild Wild East.

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August 29, 2006

Disney to Redesign Web Site Next Year

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Posted by John Yunker

So said Disney president Bob Iger in his earnings call last month. Here’s the text…

“In fiscal 2007, we will launch a wholly redesigned Disney.com that will capitalize on the unique strength of the Disney brand and content. This is in addition to our robust entertainment offerings from our other vertical sites, ESPN 360 and ABC.com. So across our entire portfolio, we will emphasize entertainment, commerce and community. We also will continue to invest in our core Disney-branded content for television and other platforms around the world. We see increased development of high-quality branded content to markets outside the United States as an important long-term brand and profit-building opportunity for us. Creative and brand strength, the application of technology and globalization are the central elements of our strategy.”

The question is: Will Disney redesign with Web globalization in mind? The redesign stage is the ideal time for a company to craft a Web site that can scale to accomodate multiple locales and languages.

Disney has performed poorly in our annual Web Globalization Report Card. In 2006, the Disney.com site ranked 274 out of 300. Disney property ESPN faired even worse at 284. So there is plenty of room for improvement across the board.

The most important improvement Disney can make is to employ a global design template that all countries can work within. This template should be largely text based, to provide for fast-loading Web pages. That’s not to say that Disney can’t use lots of rich media; just that the global template should be optimized for speed. Currently, there are loads of text embedded within visuals for little reason other than because the designer wanted to display a specific font.

Global navigation should also be improved so that no matter where users land on the site, or what language they speak, they can easily find their way to where they want to go.

This is the time for Disney to improve its global Web strategy. I’ll keep an eye on the site and report back in 2007…

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August 28, 2006

The Last Days of Yahoo! 1.0

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Posted by John Yunker

Perhaps I'm a curmudgeon, but I don't want to give up my old Yahoo! Web site for the "new and improved" Yahoo! that is coming -- whether I like it or not -- on September 1st.

Every day they remind me that the new site is coming, that my old site is being "retired." Makes me feel like I'm being retired.
yahoo_old_475.gif

I'm not trying to be difficult. I've tried the new site. I just don't think it's much better. I don't like having the navbar on the left side of the page. I used to be able to click on Yahoo! Sports with my eyes closed; now I have to fumble down an endless list of icons.

However, despite what I think about the new design, I do have to give Yahoo! credit for taking this design global quickly. While most companies may take up to a year to roll out a new design across all country sites, Yahoo! is off to a blistering start.

Here is the new design in Brazil...

yahoo_brazil_new_475.gif

And Korea...

yahoo_korea_new_475.gif

China has sorta migrated over to the new design...

yahoo_china_new_475.gif

At least Japan is still old school.

yahoo_japan_475.gif

I'm sure it's just a matter of time before Yahoo! Japan meets its redesign.

As for me, I'm not giving in easily. I've got a few days left of Yahoo 1.0 and I'm going to refuse every day to opt in to the new design. No, I'm holding out until the end.

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August 27, 2006

Quechua Has Friends in High Places

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Posted by John Yunker

Quechua is the language of the Incan Empire and is spoken by roughly 10 million people throughout South America, the majority of whom live in Peru and Bolivia.

Recent developments suggest that this “minority” language is not going gently into that good night.

Google currently supports Quechua with a localized search engine.
google_quechua.jpg

And it is not the only software company to support this language.

I read this morning, via Michael Kaplan’s blog, that Microsoft now supports Quechua in Windows and its Office software. It will be announcing this language support with the newly elected president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who is an Indian. I should note that this level of support only applies to menus and commands; I don’t expect to see a knowledgebase translated anytime soon. Still, a little support is much much better than no support.

In addition, The Economist features an article on Quechua, noting that a recently elected member of Peru’s Congress is now speaking Quechuan instead of Spanish.

This high-level support for the language will help ensure that multinational companies provide support as well, a positive sign for the one of the world’s oldest surviving languages.

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August 25, 2006

Welocalize: Climbing Up the Inc 500 List

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Posted by John Yunker

Welocalize announced today that it had made the Inc 500 list for a second year in a row. The company moved up from 407 last year to 327 this year, with three-year sales growth of 409%.

The company announced last year that it generated $10.2 million in the first half of 2005. So that would make the company a $30 million company at the end of this year? It’s hard to say because there was an acquisition/merger in January of this year. Regardless, the company looks to be doing quite well.

UPDATE: I received a press release Friday from Welocalize announcing the completion of its merger with Asian translation agency Transco and confirming that they are now at the $30 million revenue mark. The company now has offices on three continents and a staff of 250.

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The World Population: Think Inside the Box

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Posted by John Yunker

Bettina Speckman has created a rectangular map of the world's poputation, in which the size of the rectangle is relative to the size of a given country's population.

world_cartograph.jpg

It really puts into perspective how big China and India are relative to the rest of the world. You can check it out here

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Marketing to Chuppies

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Posted by John Yunker

UPS recently hired a Chinese market research firm to survey 1,200 “Chuppies” – Chinese, urban, middle-class consumers. What they found is good news for American companies looking to expand into this market.

Particularly good news is that this group of Chinese are embracing online shopping and credit cards. According to the study, more than half (52%) use credit or debit cards for shopping, and 40% have shopped online.

This is a long report -- you can download a copy for free here. Here's the press release excerpt that jumped out at me...

“Online shopping in China is still very new and there are many kinks still to be worked out, including simplifying payment and delivery,” said Erin Ennis, Vice President, U.S.-China Business Council. “American companies need to consider offering Web sites in the local language to increase their online sales.

I would say that companies need to do more than consider translating their Web sites to sell goods in China. Translation is the price of admission these days.

The survey even touched on color preferences for packaging. If you're a male Chinese consumer, the study says, odds are that you prefer a blue package.
chinese_packaging_male.jpg

If you're female, you prefer a red package, which is not a big surprise -- red is a color of celebration; wedding dresses are in red.
chinese_packaging_female.jpg

But what I found surprising was how highly white ranked overall. White is typically associated with death in Asia and I had talked to a client a few years ago who found that white packaging was turn-off to its focus groups. But perhaps this is changing. I suspect that Chinese consumers are becoming internationalized by the Internet.

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August 19, 2006

Google Desktop in 28 Languages

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Posted by John Yunker

Google Desktop began as a simple application that would let you search your computer's hard drive as quickly as it searches the Internet. And, best of all, it was free.

It still is free, but now it supports lots of little desktop applications, known as gadgets, and 28 languages, including Finnish, Turkish, and Romanian (excerpted here).
google_desktop_romanian.jpg

You can reach more than 80% of the world's Internet users with just 10 languages. So Google is clearly making good progress in expanding the reach of this application.

However, for those of us on Macs (like me) Google Desktop is still out of reach.

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July 25, 2006

eBay Tries to Expand Globally Without Offending Locally

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Posted by John Yunker

eBay, despite doing business in more than 20 countries, still earns the bulk of its revenues from US sellers, folks who have been increasingly unhappy about steadily increasing listing fees. When eBay North America president Bill Cobb confirmed recently that eBay wasn't charging transaction fees to sellers in China, sellers in the US were none too pleased.

Om Malik has a good take on the situation, one that underscores the transparency of Web globalization and the importance of treating all markets equally.

Of course, no company treats all markets exactly the same. Bigger markets get more attention. And eBay needs to grow quickly in China. While eBay's marketplace revenues in the US dipped this last quarter, international revenues more than made up for the slack. eBay is playing catch-up in China and believes that it needs to lower the barriers to sellers in a market that is extremely price resistant.

So does this mean eBay must start charging sellers in China exactly what it charges sellers in the US?

Not necessarily. Every market is different and will require a different strategy. And emerging markets will generally get subsidized by developed markets.

While any fee increase is going to anger sellers, I wonder if eBay could have mitigated the damage somewhat by helping US sellers understand what it was trying to accomplish in China -- and what it is up against in this market.

I think the larger issue here is lack of cultural communication. On absolute terms, US sellers and Chinese sellers are not being treated equally. But most sellers in China can't expect to see the revenues that sellers in the US are currently seeing. And there is a cultural resistance in China to conducting transactions online. Americans don't seem to have much of an issue with online transactions; but not so in China. And competition in this market is ruthless. How can eBay succeed if competitors aren't charging transaction fees?

The issue isn't about eBay stealing from one market to subsidize another market, but about localizing strategy (and pricing) for each market.

What if eBay doesn't succeed in China? Will sellers in the US ultimately suffer from fewer potential buyers? Or, will sellers in the US benefit from fewer competitors?

The major lesson I take from this is that if you can't treat every country equally, at least do a darn good job of educating every country as to your reasons why.

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July 18, 2006

Unicode Turns 5.0 Today

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Posted by John Yunker

There was some mighty big news made today -- mighty big if you're a globalization geek -- the fifth iteration of Unicode was officially launched.

unicode_logo.jpg

Says the press release: "The Unicode Consortium announces the release of a significant update of its widely-used Unicode Character Database (UCD). The new version, Version 5.0, defines more than 99,000 characters for the languages of the world, and provides the detailed properties needed for computer software implementations. This latest level of the UCD contains all the information needed to update software to support the characters and algorithms that are the foundation for all modern computer programs -- including the latest data for Unicode security mechanisms, collation, and locales."

A print version of the standard is forthcoming. I have version 3.0, which weighs in at more than a thousand pages; I can only imagine how big the 5.0 book will be. Actually, if you want to get a true feel for the significance of Unicode, you really need to get the book. I got such a kick out of browsing through all those characters from all those languages that I don't speak. It puts little ol' English in perspective. It's an impressive achievment.

At this point it seems the improvements to Unicode are more about wiring and plumbing than simple character additions. Fewer than 2,000 characters were added this time around. But those characters do represent five new scripts: Balinese, N'Ko, Phags-pa, Phoenician, and Sumero-Akkadian Cuneiform.

I'm still in awe of Unicode and the people who developed it. Thanks to Unicode we can post multiple scripts on one Web page (whether or not they all display properly is another issue). Thanks to Unicode, a global company can purchase one content management system and, assuming it supports Unicode, allow all of the offices to contribute content, in nearly any language.

One application; many languages.

When I got into this field in 1999, creating a Japanese-language Web page required purchasing the Japanese OS of Windows, for starters. Those were the dark ages indeed. Thanks to Unicode, so many of the technical hurdles are gone, allowing people to simply communicate.

You can read all the details of 5.0 here.

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July 17, 2006

Lionbridge Says Freeway Off to Strong Start

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Posted by John Yunker

Lionbridge issued a press release today on the growth of its new Web-based translation memory (TM) application, Logoport. Here are some notable stats:

- The volume of words managed by Logoport has more than doubled since its launch two months ago.
- Exactly how many words is that? Lionbridge says Logoport is nearing one billion words.
- Logoport supports more than 1,000 unique daily users and more than 40-million database queries per hour.
- One client is seeing an additional 5% to 10% reuse rate thanks to Logoport because it is now leveraging more than 150 separate TMs.

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July 11, 2006

Chinese as a Second Language

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Posted by John Yunker

According to Reuters, China is doing its part to help the world learn to speak its language.

It just launched the Chinese-instruction Web site: Linese.com.

linese.jpg

It's somewhat ironic that the site comes across as poorly translated; bridging the English-Chinese gap, in either direction, is no easy task.

I've talked to a number of people lately who tell that they or their children (or both) are now learning Chinese. Reuters puts the estimate at 30 million students globally.

When I was in college, learning Japanese was all the rage. Now it is Chinese. Something tells me that this particular language, as far as the US is concerned, is much more than a passing fad.

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June 29, 2006

Google's Middle East Expansion

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Posted by John Yunker

According to The Wall Street Journal, Google has chosen "Egypt as its first outpost in the Arab world because it is the most populous country in the region, with 78 million people and 5.2 million Internet users. Google estimates 50 million people in the region will be online by 2009."

But there is still a lack of content in Arabic on the Internet. Google says that less than 1% of all Internet content is in English.

But I am seeing content growth as far as multinationals are concerned. In our 2006 Web Globalization Report Card, 46 of the 300 companies analyzed offered some degree of Web content in Arabic, roughly 16%. While this is low, it's up from the 10% we found in 2005.

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June 23, 2006

Google Cashes Out of Baidu

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Posted by John Yunker

Baidu is the "Google" of China with 51% of the market (according to CNNIC). Awhile back, Google bought a small chunk of the company, before it went public, presumably with the intention of using Baidu as its point of entry into China. Apparently, the powers that be wouldn't let that happen, which led Google to launch Google China (and suffer the wrath of negative publicity from outside of China).

According to AP, Google just sold its share of Baidu putting an end to that dream. Google made money on the deal -- $55 million -- but I'm guessing it would have rather owned 100% Baidu and 0% Google China. But that's all history now and millions of Chinese are brand new to the Internet -- still plenty of time left for Google to out-Google Baidu.

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June 22, 2006

How Wikipedia Manages Multilingual Content Expectations

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Posted by John Yunker

Wikipedia came in second in our 2006 Web Globalization Report Card for a number of reasons. Not only does it offer content in more than 100 languages, it does a good job of managing content expectations.

It does not hide how much content it offers in each language. In fact, it tells you upfront how many articles it offers, such as 168,000+ articles in Swedish and 143,000+ articles in Português.

wikipedia_detail.jpg

As shown below, Wikipedia groups all languages by the amount of content supported by each. It's the long tail in action.

wikipedia_languages.jpg

How many corporate Web sites are transparent about how much content they offer in each language? Would users benefit from knowing that a site offers 50,000 Web pages in English but only 500 pages in Russian?

Successful Web globalization is all about managing expectations. Users can be very forgiving about sites that aren't fully localized -- but they can be equally dismissive of sites that create the impression that they offer more localized content than they actually do.

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June 21, 2006

Global Gateway Tip: Don't Play Favorites

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Posted by John Yunker

A pull-down menu is not the ideal solution for global gateways. For starters, it doesn't scale well. If you offer ten or fewer country Web sites, a pull-down menu might work okay, but anything beyond that and you're asking a number of users to do a bit of scrolling.

The scrolling issue becomes particularly apparent when a menu includes 100+ countries. which is often the case on "select your country" input forms. Sorted alphabetically, countries like the US and UK are going to fall near the bottom of this list. Which is why some organizations bump these countries to the top of the list. This is an unfortunate solution, as it tells the rest of the world that a specific country is more important than the others.

I recently visited a non-profit organization in the UK and had to select my country. Sure enough, the UK was at the top of the list while I had to do a bit of scrolling to find my country.

uk_form.jpg

So what's the alternative? Geolocation is one approach -- in which you guesstimate the user's country -- an approach that is roughly 95% successful. You can also present a pop-up map with countries grouped by region so the user can quickly select his or her country.

If you must use a pull-down menu, just don't play favorites.

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MySpace China, Germany, and France This Summer?

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Posted by John Yunker

According to TechCrunch, MySpace could launch a half-dozen non-English Web sites as early as this summer. Says the blog, "MySpace co-founder and chief executive Chris DeWolfe was quoted by the Financial Times yesterday and said that the first localized, non-English versions of MySpace will be available this summer. The company has designated 11 countries to target, naming specifically only France, German, China and India."

Here's the current MySpace global gateway:
myspace_gateway_jun06.jpg
It will be interesting to see how MySpace's gateway evolves to handle the additional sites.

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June 20, 2006

Soccer vs. Football, via ESPN

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Posted by John Yunker

I always have wondered what Europeans would call US football if and when it became popular over there. Apparently, I'm not alone and ESPN has a solution to that pesky soccer/football naming issue. You can view the ad here

espn_clip.jpg

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McDonalds in China; Elle in the Middle East

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Posted by John Yunker

The Wall Street Journal features two articles on business globalization and localization -- from McDonald's building drive-thrus in China to Elle publishiing a Middle East edition.

For Elle, the challenge is complex because there is no one "Middle East" market when it comes to fashion and cultural dress codes. Says the article, "Clothing customs vary widely throughout the region. In some countries like Lebanon, many of the clothes shown in Elle might be worn on the street. In others, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, they'd be reserved for private gatherings of women. Accessories, from designer shoes to handbags, scarves, sunglasses and jewelry, are permitted almost everywhere."

McDonald's got started in China in 1990 and plans to have 1,000 locations open by the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Roughly half of all future locations will have drive-thrus. But because this is still a new concept in China, McDonald's is treading carefully. For its first drive-thru, it had a human taking orders rather than that garbled box we Americans have barked into for years. The larger issue is that the Chinese look at restaurants as gathering places and not pass-thru places, at least not yet. Says the article...

    McDonald's has spent much of its time in China learning to slow down from its fast-paced U.S. roots. The company's new restaurants have Internet connections, play areas for children and special seating for their mothers, all of which are designed to reinforce their role as gathering places. "We eat McDonald's when the kids want to," says Luo Wenwei, a housewife from the prosperous southern town of Dongguan, who drives a Volkswagen.

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June 16, 2006

Overcome the Text Messaging Language Barrier on Skype

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Posted by John Yunker

Robert Levin, CEO of Transclick, alerted me to an app they have developed that plugs into Skype and translates text messages in real time. So you can message across languages.

The app is in beta currently (isn't everything these days) and you can download it here: http://share.skype.com/directory/transkype/view/.
It looks like it's going to be a paid app, so try it out now while it's free.

Although I love Skype, I'm not much of a text messeger; so please let me know how it works...

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June 15, 2006

One Step Forward; Two Steps Back

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Posted by John Yunker

Just when I thought the dark days of US xenophobia couldn't get any darker, I read that Utah has taken down its Spanish-language Web site.

According to the article, ""Two weeks ago, the state launched www.espanol.utah. gov, a Spanish-language companion to the state's informational Web site The Spanish-language site offered 10 pages of information on taxes, health services, driver licences, and work-force services selected from the state's 400-page Web site. But within days, callers complained to the governor's office that the site violated Utah's law making English the state's official language. The Spanish-language site was quickly taken down until its content can be reviewed, said Mower."

As US companies add Spanish content to their Web sites at a furious pace (Southwest Airlines, Home Depot, Lowe's), our federal, state, and local governments are going in reverse (or leaning in that direction). In a period of time when Americans should be learning second and third languages, we're having debates on "protecting" English. How long will it be before WhiteHouse.gov takes down its Spanish content?

whitehouse_es_link.jpg

These are dark days.

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Google News Adds Arabic

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Posted by John Yunker

Google News has added Arabic to its portfolio of 35 localized sites. This site takes a language-specific approach to the news rather than country-specific approach.

It's getting a little crowded at the bottom of each News page...
googlenews_arabic.jpg

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June 3, 2006

Heading to Internet Retailer Conference

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Posted by John Yunker

I'm off to Chicago shortly to attend/speak at the Internet Retailer Conference. This is a sizable event -- I'm told there are more than 2,100 participants (I think it has officially sold out). And Web globalization in the retail sector is a hot topic this year; a number of sessions are devoted to the topic.

I've also just published a handy guide on Web globalization for retailers. You can read more here.

If you're going to be at the conference, please let me know!

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English, Chinese, and Hindi?

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Posted by John Yunker

According to Silicon India Google CE Eric Schmidt says India will become the world's biggest Internet market in 5 to 10 years. Says the article, "Schmidt's other futurist view is that Hindi, not Hispanic, could become one of the world's three Internet languages, in conjunction with English and Chinese."

Given that Hindi was represented on just a handful of the 300 global Web sites we reviewed for the 2006 Web Globalization Report Card, that's a pretty bold statement. Statistically, it makes sense. But the Global 1000 have yet to embrace Hindi on the Web in a big way.

Chinese (Simplified) is a different story. It is now the ranked 5th on our list of most-popular languages, up from 7th last year.

Here are the top five (after English):

1. German
2. French
3. Japanese
4. Spanish
5. Chinese


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