mobileTech Tuesday, by Steve Guengerich
This week’s article is cross-posted from its original in The Appconomy.
Intellectually, most people “get” that the market for mobile technology and apps is a global one. But, sometimes, we lose sight of the examples that remind us the pros and cons of this reality.
Pros, in the sense of potential markets in which to sell goods far beyond any one entrepreneur’s national boundaries; cons, in the sense of a global, 24×7 competitive environment, prohibiting you from counting on any region as a safe harbor for cornering a sale.
Lest we forget, the historical roots of the mobile communications network races (which could today easily be captured in a Buzz Lightyear-style rally cry “to 5G and beyond!”) come from the initial launch of the first generation (or “1G”) network covered the full metropolitan area of Tokyo’s over 20 million inhabitants with a cellular network of 23 base stations in 1978.
Within five years, the network had been expanded to cover the whole population of Japan and became the first nation-wide 1G network, built and operated by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT).
Today, the appconomy is a more global phenomenon than ever, where time zones and national boundaries still exist in fact, but in practice mean less and less to our work and leisure time. Innovation in mobile can happen anywhere, as nicely highlighted in an excellent, free eBook by Tomi Ahonen.
Examples that Anonen cites? How about:
Layar, the augmented reality browser, sounds like futuristic digital magic that should come from Japan or South Korea, but it was invented in the Netherlands.
Angry Birds, the most popular iPhone game surely must come from the West Coast of the USA, home of EA and all of the clever game designers, but it came from Finland.
For all of the European and Asians who think the USA is lagging in mobile, what of the most advanced mobile video blogging and sharing service? Must come from Scandinavia or Japan, right? No, Qik was launched in the USA.
That’s not to say that regional culture and tradition don’t matter. Quite the opposite. In fact, as the research firm Common Sense Advisory established in March 2011, it takes a minimum of 16 languages for a website or app to be among the most competitive online – and that number keeps growing each year. (See the Figure)
As they summarized, in 2010, no one country or language accounted for more than 25% of the total online population (TOP). In fact, to effectively communicate with a minimum threshold of 80% of potential global visitors, the website would require no fewer than 11 languages.
So, start by educating yourself, whether it’s:
- reading books and research, like those from Ahonen and the CSA group, respectively;
- adding prominent, non-US global media to your regular reading – via RSS from high growth markets like India, China, or Brazil, or via iPad apps from like the BBC or Economist), or;
- attending a basics workshop conducted by your local chamber of commerce/international trade groups, like this workshop in Austin in May or this international coalition meeting in June.
Pay attention to international – mobile is global.