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Are You Prepared for Mobile App Localization?
Posted by Rebecca Ray on February 2, 2016  in the following blogs: Business Globalization, Best Practices
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What's more personal than your mobile phone or wearable technology? Not much. When you depend on something you carry around or wear every single day, you want it to speak your language, understand where you are, and recognize what you want at any given moment. As more and more people around the world upgrade from feature to smartphones, the demand for localized content continues to rise. Because they interact so frequently with these gadgets, they want to do so in their mother tongue.

Whether you're a localization manager who buys language services, or an LSP that provides them, you face new challenges when rendering content on very small screens into a rising number of languages. CSA Research interviewed 29 global companies in 10 countries to document those issues. Here are three of the seven challenges that we identified, along with how to resolve them:

  1. Study when to adapt  workflows for mobile - and when not to. Market and language selection may be different for mobile than for web or desktop apps. You may be trying to enter a totally new market or extend your reach beyond a current demographic. Take advantage of analytics tools and data offered by app stores in your decision-making process. Then choose the markets and languages best-suited to mobile for your company.
  2. Provide internationalization guidelines when training mobile developers. Global readiness means that your app must support any target market in terms of locale-specific design, functionality, language, culture, business regulations, geo-localization, payments processing, and regulatory compliance. Make your mobile developers aware of the standards for each area and require their integration into all coding and testing routines. Then insist that they take advantage of the internationalization functionality offered by mobile developer platforms.
  3. Implement cost-effective ways to test customer experience in-country. "Being mobile" often requires moving across geopolitical boundaries. That means adapting for and testing more than just the typical cultural and linguistic issues to which localization managers are accustomed. This is best done through testing apps in the context of user locations and preferences.
Just as many people in emerging and frontier markets bypassed landlines to go directly to feature phones, many are now trading in those older phones and skipping desktop + broadband to invest in smartphones. The majority of these potential customers operate in languages, cultures, locations, and business environments that have nothing to do with English or the countries where it is spoken. However, their personal context is more important than ever because they have more money to spend and more local companies with which to spend it. Whether you buy or sell language services, make sure that your company is ready to localize as many of their mobile moments as possible.


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