About this Author
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.
September 22, 2004
The MBA has for years been a largely American phenomenon, but this is changing. The Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive ranking of corporate recruiters' favorite MBA programs has this year added a new category: the international MBA program.
I predict that the international MBA category is going to overshadow (or replace) the North American category. After all, what company today does not want an executive with a strong understanding of and appreciation for global markets? Granted, the top US schools certainly offer their share of international business courses and draw students from around the world (MIT Sloan is one excellent example), but there's something to be said for immersing US students in foreign programs and forcing them to learn different languages and cultures.
So here are the top five international schools:
- IMD International (Lausanne, Switzerland)
- London Business School
- ESADE (Barcelona, Spain)
- HEC School of Management (Paris)
- MIT Sloan
And here is an interesting excerpt (subscription required) from The Wall Street Journal
Some schools received kudos for encouraging students to be multilingual. "ESADE stipulates that part of the M.B.A. curriculum includes knowing two languages [English and Spanish] by graduation, which in my opinion, should be a requirement for every M.B.A. graduate in the world," says James Dress, a survey respondent and brand manager at Grupo Panrico, a food company in Barcelona.
Language should absolutely be a component of an MBA program these days. I'm not suggesting that students need to be fluent in multiple languages, but a healthy appreciation for various languages will only help students appreciate various cultures. It also underscores an important point I find often overlooked at business schools: knowing how to read a culture is just as important as knowing how to read a balance sheet
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Globalization | Web Globalization
September 21, 2004
Here's an excellent resource for anyone curious about the Mac's global capabilities. It has been recently updated and offers an excellent explanation of what OS X supports (and doesn't support) regarding Unicode.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Web Globalization
This Reuters article illustrates some of the greatest obstacles to expanding into new markets: payment and fulfillment.
Localizing a Web site can seem downright trivial when compared to navigating complex finance laws and regulations, selling to people who don't have credit cards, and delivering products when there are few reliable services. Welcome to China.
Here are some interesting stats from the article:
- China's online shopping market was worth 4.2 billion yuan ($507.5 million) last year and is expected to double this year, according to market research firm Shanghai iResearch.
- Only 10 percent of China's estimated 90 million-plus Web surfers buy things on the Internet, compared with 38 percent in the United States, according to industry executives.
- Global Internet giants including eBay, Yahoo, and Amazon.com have all taken the China plunge in the last year, paying a combined $375 million to acquire domestic start-ups.
- The nation's credit card holders now number a scant two million, a fraction of its 1.3 billion people.
eBay, which is already in China, is close to launching PayPal in China, which will help fuel ecommerce in the country. And China Post appears to be opening the courier business to the likes of DHL, UPS and FedEx.
When going global, companies need to look well beyond their Web sites.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Globalization
September 17, 2004
Cox Communications announced yesterday that it is rolling out Spanish-langauge bills in selected markets. Here is the press release.
I found an interesting new term in the release: transcreating. This is just another term for localization, and I'm not sure I like it any better. But its use does underscore the limitations of terms like localization and internationalization. Here is the quote:
Cruz noted that Cox is the first major cable company to offer customers a
"bundled bill" in Spanish, meaning that the new billing feature is available
with not only Cox Cable, but also Cox Digital Telephone and Cox High Speed
Internet. As with Cox's current billing options, customers of multiple Cox
services who choose the new Spanish-language bill can elect to receive a
single bill or separate bills for each service.
"Certainly, there is much more to offering a billing statement in Spanish
than simply translating the existing bill. We took great care in
'transcreating' our statement to ensure that every section is clear,
understandable and culturally relevant to our Spanish-speaking customers,"
Cruz noted. "We also looked carefully at our customer service functions to
ensure we offer excellent customer care at all levels of contact. This
includes having customer service representatives who speak Spanish. We've also enhanced our web site, http://www.cox.com , to allow customers to view their Spanish- language bills and access other online customer support features in Spanish."
When Cox launches the Spanish support pages for the San Diego market, I'll provide more detail. However, if all they're doing is adding a language preference option on the customer's account information page, I doubt that this will be enough to ensure widespread usage. Cox needs to launch a full-scale Spanish Web site. Perhaps support is the first step.
As a side note, in our recent report we found that marketing initiatives tend to be what drive Web localization, not support initiatives. Cox appears to be an exception to that trend.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Globalization | Translation
September 14, 2004
The Wall Street Journal features an excellent article on one man's attempt to capitalize on the booming Hispanic market in the US. He purchased Spanish broadcast rights to the Boston (this is the year) Red Sox and has found it a lot harder to make ends meet than he expected. His company is the Spanish Beisbol Network and here's an article excerpt:
"It looks so easy from the outside, but it's not," says Amaury Pi-Gonzalez, the Cuban-born voice of the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics, two teams that have stumbled in their Spanish broadcasting ventures.
A combination of factors contributes to baseball's Spanish slump. Demographics play a role: Cities where Mexican immigrants dominate el barrio are more likely to listen to soccer than baseball.
There are countless outstanding Mexican restaurant here in San Diego and I have yet to enter one that has a San Diego Padres game (or any other baseball game) on the air. It's always a soccer match.
Sports are intricately tied to culture, which means any major shift usually requires a generational shift as well.
Now if the Red Sox make it into the playoffs, Spanish Beisbol Network will make it into the black. Prediction: This will be a profitable year for the Spanish Beisbol Network.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Globalization
September 7, 2004
The iTunes Music Store is slowly but surely extending its global grasp. iTunes is the software companion to the iPod, allowing users to buy songs and books a la carte over the Internet.
As the iPod has been expanded into new markets, so has the iTunes store. According to recent news reports, Apple is on track to launch a pan-European iTunes application in October. However, this application will be in English only.
To date, Apple has localized iTunes for three markets: Germany, France and the UK. Japan is no doubt close behind. Here are a few scree shots of how iTunes directs users to the country-specific iTunes apps.
First, here is the Apple iTunes Web page promoting the localized software applications:
Once you install and run the iTunes application, you can switch between country Web sites by clicking on the flag gateway, shown here:
And here is a larger screen shot of the iTunes Germany home page.
Finally, once you click on the flag gateway, you're taken to this page offering you a colorful selection of flags:
Flags are clearly the navigation icon of choice. As you may already know, I'm not a fan of using flags as navigational icons, although they do have more relevance in this case due to copyright law. It seems that the major obstacle to Apple taking iTunes globa isn't so much language as legal issues. Copyright laws vary by country, which makes the use of flags much more important from a legal "cover our rear end" perspective.
Flags is as a navigational icon, do not scale well. I'll be interested to see how Apple manages navigation once it has iTunes in two dozen countries. And given the recent launch of Microsoft's music service, there is more urgency to get there quickly. Ideally, the coming European iTunes application would be localized for each market, but it appears that Apple is simply in a rush to launch the darn thing before Microsoft gets any momentum. FIrst came the legal hurdles, language comes later.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Globalization | Translation | Web Globalization
Here's a meaty article from CNET News on the latest XML developments. According to the co-creator of XML, Tim Bray, XML owes at least some of its success to its native support for Unicode. Here's a quote:
XML has succeeded, co-creator Bray said, because it has solved several of the more vexing challenges for electronic data exchange, including growing need to deal with diverse languages and character sets.
"One of the big problems is internationalization," Bray said. "One of the reasons XML took off is because it solved a lot of those issues with Unicode, which was fairly new at that point."
When XML hit the scene, HTML still advocated the Latin 1 character set and the Domain Name System was mired (and still is mired) in a subset of ASCII. Although HTML is now Unicode-friendly, XML was built to support the managing of the massive amounts of content that companies now struggle with. XML is far from perfect; because it is so flexible it allows for almost too much creativity from the vendors. Still, it's the best thing going and its support for Unicode has made XML the language for choice for companies that want to "future proof" their content.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Software Localization | Translation | Web Globalization
Error: could not connect to server