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Smartling Buys Jargon to Enhance Mobile Localization – and Support the Physical Web
Posted by Donald A. DePalma on April 5, 2016  in the following blogs: Global Marketing, Market Data, Mobile Localization, Technology, Translation and Localization, Web Globalization
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When contacting LSPs and language technology developers about our annual global market study, we pinged dozens of companies that have yet to complete the survey. One was Jargon, a startup developer with an innovative approach to mobile app localization – a real sticky point for many organizations. They struggle to reach prospects and customers that spend more time glued to their smartphones than shackled to their PCs and Macs. 

Earlier this year, Jargon was acquired by Smartling. Last week, we got an update from CEO Jack Welde prior to a public announcement of the deal. Per the usual dance with privately-held companies, we asked what he paid, and he declined to tell us. However, he did say that Smartling dug into its own deep pockets to buy Jargon – and told us to expect other acquisitions to complement its growing capability as a translation management system (TMS). He said that the integration of Jargon into Smartling was well underway.  

Why did Smartling buy Jargon? Welde cited a few reasons:

  • In-context editor for mobile. Developers can create native localized Android and iOS apps, edit them in their mobile environment, and integrate mobile deployments in workflows within Smartling's standard TMS framework.
  • Over-the-air (OTA) updates. A single line of code dropped into an app lets an Android or iOS device phone home. When you click on a Jargon-enabled app, it checks the developer's system for changes, new content or functions, and corrections to existing translations – and makes the updates. That means app publishers can perform an instant OTA revision to their work, without requiring a visit to the app store. We know of just one other mobile localization solution, Qordoba, with such functionality. However, Jargon's technology, melded with Smartling's expertise with its Global Delivery Network, creates a scalable platform for updates to apps around the world. 
  • Browser-based testing. While it won't ship in the first version, Smartling will extend Jargon's app QA capability to a browser-based mobile emulator. Because few developers have access to all the devices on which their apps might run (think of the proliferation of Androids and even of iPhone 6 with various suffixes), this tool allows them to test all app processes within a browser. We have seen this capability at a high-end telco carrier's GSM testing lab in Europe, but it's available on few mass-market products. 
Finally, the acquisition extends Smartling's connectivity solutions to mobile devices beyond web and standard computing platforms. This support includes manual file uploads, an HTTP proxy solution, a comprehensive API, and pre-built connectors for a variety of marketing, commerce, and content management platforms. This breadth of system integration options validates what CSA Research observed in our recent research on TMS technology – software developers have recognized the importance of offering broad connectivity to their customers. Over the last year, TMS vendors have dramatically increased their support for tight integration with corporate systems of record and social engagement.

How does Smartling's acquisition change the market? It raises the competitive bar for translation automation tools by adding strong mobile support to the connectivity equation, gives corporate buyers and their language service providers a multi-modal development tool for pushing their content to ever more eyeballs, and increases the M&A attractiveness of other mobile app tool developers with comparable technology.

On the mobile front, it gives app developers the same control over their localized work as they have over their websites by moving to what Google dubbed "The Physical Web" – "people should be able to walk up to any smart device...[interact]...and not have to download an app first." Development tools like this take us one step closer to that vision. 


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