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THOUGHT: Localized Application Stores - not a bad Idea at all?
Posted by Arne Hess - on Tuesday, 20.10.09 - 16:56:24 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 11756x
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Microsoft doesn't received a good feedback when it launched its Windows Marketplace for Windows Mobile Windows phones two weeks ago because at the moment, Microsoft is providing localized versions of the Market Place only. This means that an US American customer will get US-related English software only while a German will get Germany-related German software only as well. As a matter of fact, developers have to localize their software offer, otherwise Microsoft won't approve it for the Windows Marketplace. While - on the first sight - it seemed to be a bad decision, it seems that Microsoft is closer to the mass-market than power-users thought about it first.

Sure, I still think that power-users should have the choice to switch to other Windows Marketplaces as well (and this feature is coming as Microsoft confirmed us) but it seems that some users are overstrained with unified app stores! Last week, O2 Germany and Telefónica Móviles España launched the Palm Pre in Germany and Spain. And like all other mobile OS, also Palm's webOS features an app store Palm calls the App Catalog. To make the Palm Pre even more attractive for European users, both - O2 and Telefónica worked closely with local content providers to make sure localized apps will be available for the Palm Pre launch.

So far so good and I - as a German - was quite happy to find some German apps in Palm's App Catalog. The more astonished I was when I read through the reviews of the German (as well as Spanish) apps: A good amount of the comments was about the language where American users complained that the App Catalog now lists applications in languages they don't understand. And indeed, it's hard to figure out - straight from a search - which language or region the application is for. Not only for Americans which don't speak German or Spanish but also for Germans or Spanish which don't speak English. Sure, some of these apps even come with multi-language UIs which depends on the device language but even than, the content might be pretty regional focused.
Sure it's not a problem of Palm's App Catalog only but also Google's Android Market mixes all kind of languages; however interesting enough I've never seen this kind of complains there.

At the end of the day - even if I, as a power-user, am still not a friend of regional limited app stores - it seems to make sense for the average smartphone user to have this kind of localization. Not everybody is a power-user, not everybody speaks foreign languages and even if you do, you might not be interested in foreign services at all because they are simply useless where you live. On the other hand, app stores should definitely offer a way for power-users to get access to the full set of available applications. However, the how is definitely a tightrope walk between usability and easiness of use.

Cheers ~ Arne


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