ePochette-eMappe-eCarpeta: Translating Software

translate.jpgLots of people want to know if we’re going to release localized (that’s the same as “translated” for those of you not in the biz) versions of our software. So far we’ve always said “Sorry, not yet.” Of course this leads to the inevitable response of “WHY??” Good news! I’m about to tell you!

It comes down to one simple thing. Support.

Language Barrier
I’ve got this theory about localized software. If a person wants a localized version of the product, there is a very good chance that they need localized support for the product. As many of you probably know, we think that amazing support is part of what you pay for when you plop down your hard earned cash to buy something from Ilium Software. It’s like one of our product’s features.

We do this really well in English, but the minute you start talking about other languages we’ve got a problem. This isn’t to say that no one here speaks a second language. The problem is that either not many people here speak the language or we’re just not very good at it!

And this doesn’t only go for support. Try doing QA on a product that is in a language you can’t read! We test pretty darn vigorously and something like this just doesn’t fit with the way we like things done!

But You’d Make More Money!
Yeah, we know. There is a good chance we would sell more software if we had localized versions. In fact this comes up all the time here in “our direction for the year” meetings. But at what expense? A few extra sales with limited support that leaves the customer unhappy? We just don’t see a big advantage to that.

We Don’t Care! Localize Anyhow!
And we might. We have a few things going on that may require localization. That might make the decision for us. And we still haven’t finished weighing the value of a localized version with limited support against the value of only selling what we know we can support really well.

So there you have it. The secret behind why you haven’t seen ePochette, eMappe, or eCarpeta hitting your favorite software store. Feel free to throw your opinions violently back at us! We’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

4 thoughts on “ePochette-eMappe-eCarpeta: Translating Software

  1. spmwinkel

    All I can say is that the team is indeed very good in customer contact when it’s in English. You could of course state somewhere that you can only give English support, ben then there would still be the problem of people starting to say “What should I do after I tap on ‘Nieuwe lijst’?”; you’d have to check translation strings all the time for people that use localized versions. I don’t mind using English software (actually, I prefer it over Dutch since I upgraded to an English ROM) but there are many people who use a Dutch ROM and want Dutch software on it or similar. Difficult issue…!

  2. Todd

    Not to nitpick, but “localization” is not the same as “translation”. Translation simply means converting language from one to another. Localization means (usually translation +) making it relevant for the people reading it in the target language/culture/country. For example, you could say “that weighs 12 lbs” and translate it as such. It wouldn’t make a bit of sense to most of the world as most countries don’t use the imperial system of weights and measures. “That weighs 12 lbs” would be localized as “that weighs 5 kg” for most countries/languages.

    BTW, you don’t need to translate in order to localize. Things that go back and forth from the UK to the US are localized all the time. Like the TV show “The Office”.

  3. Marc Post author

    Todd is absolutely right. I just know that it’s easy to slip into jargon while posting and that some readers might not be familiar with the terminology. To that end I shot for the shortest and simplest definition I could come up with. Your description (and examples) are excellent though Todd. Thanks!

  4. Luca

    Well as a user of eWallet for many years, a native Italian and a professional in the field of Software Localization QA in the US, I must say the hurdles of localized support are real.

    I disagree with the point of QA’s impossible tasks: the localization vendor should provide enabling, translation and testing services so as to deliver a final product. Your QA testers need not must prove their prowess in an exotic language.

    Additionally, though I see the real point of your article as a valid one, I would like to throw an interesting solution I saw recently. A large US company overcame the problem of support by localizing only in “readable languages” (using Latin alphabet while avoiding Hebrew, Greek, Russian etc. altogether) and provided their English-only support staff with localized emulation versions of their software.

    I though that was creative though imperfect.


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