Re: Internationalization--the next generation

From: Dave Wellman (
Date: Wed May 26 1999 - 20:31:33 EDT

I agree that the American software market is a dominating influence in the
world. I doubt there is single a person on this planet that would say
otherwise. But for software to be used world-wide, usability is a
fundamental facet of software design, therefore localization of
functionality is a major need. A need that management should understand.
Even Coke is translated into the local language and marketed differently
around the world. (i.e. Coke Lite in Europe and Ho-hou-ho-lok in China).
The one caveat is that coke uses it's American appeal as part of it
marketing campaign.

For example I worked with a nameless major software company that did a
terrible job with researching and understanding the international markets.
After spending millions to translate a product for one of the FIGS
languages, they only sold 18 copies, and only a handful of the English
version. At the same time we contently "provided" a useless spell checker
that would attempt to spellchecker Chinese characters. These where just a
few of the problems the i18n group created and faced. The overall appeal
of the localized software was severely hurt, both domestically and

Hopefully international competition will provide the catalyst for companies
to provide software that is localized not simply enabled with a translated
UI. It becomes a simple matter of software success; appeal, usability, and

Dave Wellman

----- Original Message -----
From: Suzanne Topping <>
To: Dave Wellman <>
Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 1999 16:54
Subject: Re: Internationalization--the next generation

> Dave,
> I'll be very interested to hear if people have any useful responses to the
> issue you raise.
> While we were at the conference, the subject turned to the fact that
> American software and products are becoming as ubiquitous as Coke around
> world. The world is becoming Americanized. For many software products,
> are no alternatives to the ones American companies offer. We are the
> day equivalent of Ancient Rome in our impact on the world.
> Given this scenario, why bother trying to please other cultures? Why not
> continue on the current path?
> I don't have the answer to that one. Bottom line is bottom line, and if
> companies can make a decent profit by doing a half-assed job, then there
> isn't much of a compelling reason to change.
> At any rate, I hope someone out there has some useful responses to your
> question!
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dave Wellman <>
> To: Suzanne Topping <>
> Cc: <>;
> <>; <>
> Date: Wednesday, May 26, 1999 6:27 PM
> Subject: Re: Internationalization--the next generation
> >et al,
> >
> >These discussions are always valuable for those that are involved in I18N
> >work, but the main problem I have is not Localization Tools, UI Masks,
> >Translations, Enabling or even Architectural considerations (such as
> >Vine, Pandora box of international E-mails).
> >
> >The most pressing problem is management that is myopic to international
> >concerns. Even when more than %50 of sales come from international
> markets,
> >I am faced with a US centric mentality that stalls my job to a crawl.
> >
> >When managements view of the international world is their last trip to
> >Switzerland you have a real problem. I have seen this same issue in
> >companies both small and large. The best place to start has always been
> >management that realizes that there is a need for I18N, but have no idea
> >what that need is.
> >
> >This is not a uncommon problem and I'm interested in how others are
> >with it.
> >
> >Dave Wellman
> >
> >(Just for fun:
> >
> >
> >

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:20:46 EDT