E.g., 04/07/2020
E.g., 04/07/2020

What’s App Mobile? I’ll Tell You What’s Up!

By: Kåre Lindahl, CEO - Venga Global

Got a mobile phone? Well, according to a late 2012 report from the ITU (International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations telecom agency), we’re pretty sure you do.  A total of 155 countries reported more than 6 billion existing mobile user subscriptions in 2011, pretty close to the human population of the entire planet. From those, over 1 billion are estimated to be smartphones, so there is good chance that the gadget buzzing on your desktop is an iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, or Blackberry.

As landlines slowly fall into oblivion with the help of VOIP, mobile devices have become as much a commodity as a staple of our daily lives. They are contraptions almost required for “connecting people”, the (not so) old Nokia motto that effectively changed our way of communicating with each other. Users of mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets have turned into fan groups with serious allegiances. Some love them for their lavish design while others seek high computing-power and lightning fast data processing. Large high resolution screens, classical camera and video camera replacing built-ins, and full-layout keyboards are all part of the evolving choices. We even agree to tie ourselves to multi-year mortgages, just so we can clutch the soon to be outdated object of our desire.

The increasingly apparent general rule is that wherever there’s a trend, there’s money to be made out of it. During the recent Superbowl, maybe THE most televised sporting event in the world, not one but two multi-million phone commercials were featured. It wouldn’t be too daring to say that mobile is at the epicenter of all current, seismic technology trends.

However, does opportunity exist for the localization industry in the world of mobile? Localization, a very competitive industry that has LSPs (of all sizes) constantly looking for new revenue sources and increased efficiency. Nonetheless, the way money is traditionally made in translation is through words; the more words - the bigger the deal. And even when using all of our “thinking-out-of-box” abilities to navigate to new opportunities, we find ourselves still fighting the strong foundational currents of the crimson sea of “price per word”.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen many mobile applications with a couple of million words to localize.

Most “apps” seldom contain more than a thousand words, including the description published in various app stores/markets. The word count is so low that with a “per word” pricing approach additional services required for the project would mostly devour any potential profitability. So, it would appear that the only good reason for localizing apps would be to provide it as an added value to an existing client. However, there’s another aspect to consider: there are many apps. There are literally millions of “apps” out there, and just in 2012 alone they accounted for over 50 billion downloads. If we were to estimate an average cost of 0.01 cents per app, we would be talking about a $500M market. Are we sure we want to ignore such a niche opportunity?

My two cents: in order to keep growing, we need to shoot some explosive angry birds at the typical business model of “word equals money”, and the way to do it is through a combination of innovation and efficiency. The mobile world is the perfect stage to create some disruptive business practices that can add value for people on both sides of the source content.

Here is the challenge: use automation to reduce your manual tasks, essentially the people and time needed to support the project - the actual profitability-killers. Then add testing services, and determine a fixed price tag to build a high value proposition for the hundreds of thousands of mobile developers out there.

Or charge a royalty instead of per word pricing?

Did you know that less than 5% of all apps ever get localized into another language? Most of the developers haven’t even thought about the possibility.

Why not be the one who redefines the market and helps mobile be even more mobile globally?  

Kåre Lindahl

Raised in Sweden, Kåre lived in the UK for 10 years before relocating to the US to join the IT boom in Silicon Valley. With over 20 years experience in high-tech gained by serving in executive roles within companies such as Oracle, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and Hogia, Kåre is now CEO of Venga Global, a specialized full-service translation and localization company working with some of the biggest names in technology brands. Follow Kåre @karelindahl.