Posts Tagged ‘Globalization’

.anydomainnameyouwant soon to be available for purchase

Friday, June 27th, 2008

This week, ICANN voted to expand gTLDs (generic top level domains) so that there are no longer restrictions on the gTLDs that can be registered and used online. A gTLD refers to the letters that come after the last dot Dotcomin a URL string, such as .com, .gov or .org. Previously, there were a limited number of generic top level domains, but this resolution by ICANN, the body that controls and governs the domain name industry, will open every gTLD as a possible domain name extension going forward. These new gTLDs are likely to start hitting the market in the fourth quarter of 2009.

A companion resolution was also pushed through, which will allow domain names to use non-Roman characters. This means that Chinese, Arabic and Cyrillic characters, for example, will all be able to be used in domain names.

These are historic decisions by ICANN, although there is a lot of debate about what kind of actual impact they will have on the industry. For more details on the specifics of what was announced, check out the announcement here.

Here are some of my initial thoughts:

This decision is important and will have an impact. Since this announcement, I have heard a lot of people making the case that the only domain name that really matters is .com. Although I agree that the .com domain name will stay the strongest for the foreseeable future, this thinking is really short-sighted. Although technology is advancing quickly, the Internet is still in its infancy. It’s hard to predict what will happen in two years, let alone in 20 years. I think that there is a very good chance that other gTLDs will become important. I’ve seen evidence of this in other countries, and honestly, it’s even possible that the gTLD system could eventually go away entirely.

It will take awhile for any new gTLD to become popular. People are comfortable with their current domain names and will likely stay with them in the short term. But this decision opens the door for a new site with a new domain name to come in and make a splash. And if that happens, it could popularize a new gTLD quickly.

This decision does nothing to hurt domain name speculators, it only helps them. The decision does not lessen the value of their current domain names, and it opens the possibility that they might be able to add a whole batch more to their already-valuable portfolios. They’ll be able to use the techniques, tactics and strategies (not to mention automated scripts and money!) that they created in the first round of domain name speculation to continue to round out their portfolios.

A new energy is going to be injected into the domain name industry that hasn’t been seen in awhile. I expect a lot of creativity, and I think that we’ll be pleasantly surprised by the fun and interesting ways that people think up of capitalizing on this opportunity.

There are significant trademark ramifications. Here is a good story if you’re interested in that.

The average man on the street is going to be confused when new gTLDs are introduced. There will have to be some serious marketing and explaining done to help translate this to the millions who are just now using .com comfortably.

The current alternate extensions are in trouble. I agree with this analysis that .info, .biz and a few other currently existing gTLDs will probably not do as well going forward.

The biggest impact will be with the companion decision, which is that ICANN is now going to allow non-Roman characters in domain names. This means that countries that don’t use Roman characters in their primary languages (China, India, Russia, etc.) will now be able to register domain names in their native languages. This is the one area that I think that there will be real, meaningful and quick growth. Asian, Arabic, Cyrillic and other scripts will now be able to have domain names – this is huge based on the numbers alone:

“At the moment, there are one-and-a-half billion people online and four-and-a-half billion people for whom the Roman script just means nothing.”  

There will be some shakeout on the specifics of this decision in the coming months, and expect a lot of buzz as the end of 2009 approaches.

Photo by husin.sani

Social networks and international audiences

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

My latest article is up on The Industry Standard, Facebook vs. MySpace: The battle for global social network dominance. It takes a look at MySpace and Facebook, and makes a prediction about which will win in the competition for international audience.

When researching the article, I came across a lot of data about social networks in various countries, and it as interesting to see the various social networks that are winning in countries around the world. According to Comscore, “the number of worldwide visitors to social networking sites has grown 34% in the past year to 530 million, representing approximately 2 out of every 3 Internet users.”

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the social networks that are less familiar to those of us in the U.S., and the countries in which they are popular. The data comes from sources here and here.

Orkut – Brazil
Orkut logo

9158.com – China
9158 logo

hi5.com – Peru, Columbia, Central America, Mongolia, Romania, Tunisia
hi5 logo

bebo.com – Ireland, New Zealand
bebo logo

cyworld – South Korea
Cyworld logo

Live Journal – Russia
Live Journal logo

This is also interesting – a visual look at MySpace (blue) vs. Facebook (red) according to Compete.com.

Compete.com myspace vs. facebook

Globalization, oursourcing and Pure Incubation

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

As I mentioned in my last post, I just finished my first board meeting for Pure Incubation, and I thought I would share my favorite statistic and slide from the meeting. One of the things that I like the best about this business is that, by design, I am working with people from all over the world. Currently, I am working with 17 different writers, designers, developers, marketing people and consultants, in 6 countries on 4 continents. To illustrate this, I put together a world map with the locations of my various consultants and contractors. I’m not a designer so forgive the bad graphics!

World Map with contractors

Americas about to fall behind in information industry

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Outsell LogoIf you haven’t caught the hint yet, there is more news today that the global market is gaining in importance. According to a press release from Outsell, the information industry revenue that is generated in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) is ready to overtake North, South and Central American revenues within one to two years. And things are already heading that way. Currently, American information industry revenues are 53% of the worldwide total, with EMEA and Asia at 47%.

The other bit of information, which was buried in the middle of the release, is that during a presentation today on “The Global Industry Outlook” at Outsell’s Signature Event, Chief Analyst Leigh Watson Healy offered up Outsell’s 10 predictions for the information industry in 2008. One of note: the firm expects the next evolution of the Internet experience to be Web 3D.

Whenever a company makes a prediction, I like to see how they did with their past prophesies. If you’re interested, Outsell’s 2007 predictions are available in a free report. Some of what they suggested would happen this year has happened, but one item in particular seems to be a false reading on the market: “Google, Yahoo, MSN, publishers, advertisers and auditors will establish standardized third-party audit and certification processes to validate clicks and battle click fraud.”

So far, this hasn’t happened – but there is still a little more than a month to go before we ring in 2008.

Facebook.fr domain name controversy

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

This story about Facebook.fr on TechCrunch gets to the heart of why you need to start preparing for globalization immediately. Registering the top-level domains in all of your relevant countries is essential or else someone may swoop in behind you and register them instead. You’ll likely eventually be able to win the dispute that arises, but you don’t want the aggravation – or the legal bills.

Global news gives a global perspective

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

I had dinner with my friend Cara tonight, and she mentioned that she occasionally visits the Yahoo international page and looks at the news sections from around the world to see what the top stories are in other countries compared to the top story in the U.S.  She does it, she says, because it is interesting to see what other countries do and don’t care about vs. what we read about in the United States.

babelfishIt seemed like it would be an interesting thing to look at, plus, since many of the sites are in foreign languages, it was also a good way to use the Babelfish translation service (I’ve been curious to see how good a job it does). So here are the top news stories in 10 countries (plus the U.S.). All translations were done using Babelfish.

U.S.: Troops take back control in Myanmar  

U.K. & Ireland: U.N. envoy heads into Myanmar maelstrom  

Australia: Crowds taunt soldiers in Burma’s Rangoon  

Brazil: Gripe aviária pode ser transmitida de mãe para filho  
Translation: “Aviária grippe can be transmitted of mother for son”
Melissa’s translation: Mothers can pass bird flu to their children

Italy:  Iraq, cominciato il ritiro dei primi soldati Usa
Translation: “Iraq, begun the withdrawal of the first USA soldiers”

China: ??????????????
Translation: “China official gazette commercial bribe leading case”

Netherlands: Rij groener!
Translation: “File Greener!”
Melissa’s Translation: I have absolutely no idea what this means, but there was a picture of a car with the heading “Green Center” next to this headline if that helps at all.

France: Huit ans de prison dans le procès du bus incendié à Marseille
Translation: “Eight years of prison in the lawsuit of the bus set fire to in Marseilles”

Korea: ??? ????? ?? “6??? ??? ???? ???
Translation: “Song the pure Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade minister “6 person conversation written agreements which it pushes oneself who is possible $$ln”

Melissa’s Translation: Again, I have no idea what this means except possibly that Babelfish doesn’t do such a good job with translations of Korean to English?

Spain: Las potencias demoran hasta noviembre nuevas sanciones a Irán
Translation: “The powers delay until November new sanctions to Iran”

Russia: ????? ?? ????? ???????????
Translation: “Pressure in Burma is strengthened”

When I originally copied and pasted into the system that publishes my blog (WordPress) the Chinese, Korean and Russian characters displayed properly. But when I tried to save, they changed to question marks…I left it that way here on purpose to illustrate just how far we still need to go with international compatibility.

~Today’s view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1455852395/ 

Start the process of globalization today

Thursday, September 27th, 2007


If you want to grow your business, I can’t think of a reason to put globalization off any longer. Pick a country, any country (other than the one in which you’re currently doing business), and take a step forward. There are ways to pick what country to start with, such as determining which countries already send a lot of visitors to your site, or finding a country that has a market in which your product has a lot of appeal. Then just start.

One of my clients is starting by re-writing all of the code for its primary application in Unicode, which has the “potential to cope with over one million unique characters.” Or you could start by examining how companies like Yahoo are managing their multilingual content. Or just subscribe to a blog that focuses on the day-to-day process of globalization. Or maybe your first step is simply trying to feel comfortable working on a project with someone in another country. My suggestion is to just try it. One site I’ve used in the past for outsourcing is eLance. The online service allows you to bid out projects of many types (including translation). All you have to do is register for an account (you’ll need an active credit card or bank account to qualify to use the service, although it’s free), then post your project. You’ll get bids from all over the world. This week, via eLance I’ve worked with contractors in Argentina, Russia and India (as well as my U.S.-based contractors – this isn’t a post about outsourcing all your work overseas!) This experience alone might open you up to the possibility of exploring other markets. Just start.

~Today’s view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1450092271/

Some interesting facts about globalization

Thursday, September 27th, 2007
  • In 2006, the fastest growing Internet audience was in…India, where the growth rate was 33%. India’s growth was followed by the Russian Federation (21%), China (20%), Mexico (18%), Brazil (16%), Italy (13%) and Canada (11%), according to a report from comScore. The growth rate in the U.S. was a mere 2%.

  • The largest Internet population in the world is still in the United States. The same comScore report showed that even though the United States’ growth rate is slower than many other countries, it still leads the world in number of Internet users over the age of 15. China, Japan, Germany, U.K., South Korea, France, India, Canada and Italy round out the top ten countries, ranked by number of unique Internet users. 

  • Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) could have a larger GDP than the G6 (U.S., U.K., Italy, France, Germany and Japan) by 2040. This fact is part of a 25-page white paper from Goldman Sachs, “Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050.” As the paper is fond of pointing out, if this indeed happens, “it will be a dramatically different world.”  In the report, India is shown to have the greatest growth potential of the BRICs, followed by Brazil, China and Russia.

  • More than 50% of the traffic to the NBA.com Web site is from international visitors. 54%, to be exact. This is a trend that many companies are discovering – that a large majority of their site visitors are coming from other countries. As John Yunker, author of Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies, sums up in his Going Global blog, “This trend [of sites getting more than half of their traffic from outside the U.S.] is a major reason why multinationals have been investing heavily in Web localization. That’s where all the growth is.”

  • A ranking of the most popular sites by country often shows the localized version of Google at the top of the list. Alexa has the rankings of the most popular sites by country, and the results are fascinating. In many instances, the localized version of Google is at the top of the list, giving some credence to the idea that preparing a localized version of your company’s Web site is a good way to start to penetrate that country’s market. In some countries, however, the number one site wouldn’t sound so familiar to the average consumer. China’s #1 site is Baidu.com . Russia’s #1 is http://mail.ru/.

  • The number 1 site that is published in the SeznamCzech language is Seznam.cz. Sounds kind of like “shezam.”  Anyway, along with finding out the top site in Czech, there is a list of the top sites in 20 other languages, including Turkish, Hebrew and Finnish (Google, Google and Google), on Alexa.

~ Today’s view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1445266053/

How to prepare for the globalization of your Internet business

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

 

GlobalizationThis is not a comprehensive list of the things that you’ll need to do to prepare your Internet business for globalization, but you need to start somewhere. And if you haven’t started yet, now is the time. This quote in a recent press release from comScore says it all: “Internet users outside the U.S. now account for 80% of the world’s online population, with rapidly developing countries experiencing double-digit growth rates year-over-year.”

Let me repeat that – 80% of the world’s online population is made up of Internet users outside the U.S. Internet users are multinational. It’s time to get started on this. Here’s how.

1)      Make sure your tech people at every level of the organization know the strategic plan for globalization. You may or may not have a CIO or CTO who typically sits at the table for strategic technology planning, but do not leave even the lower-level tech folks out of the discussion on this issue. For globalization to even have a chance at working, the technology behind your site needs to support globalization. And that technology is fairly complicated. My (incredibly) simplified understanding of the issue is that you need to use Unicode. But trust me, there’s way more to it. Just take a look at Microsoft’s “Globalization Step-by-Step.” You need your tech people on this one.

2)      Get psyched up about hiring someone who lives and works outside of the country in which you operate. In order to effectively localize your site so that it really works for people in the country that you’re trying to reach, you’re going to need to hire someone who actually lives in that country. This is the only way that you’ll be able to avoid creating a site that – for the lack of a better way to describe it – feels weird to the local users 

3)      Pick your short list of target countries. Just because you’re starting to look into globalization, that doesn’t mean that you should tackle every country at once. One suggestion is to take a look at the international traffic that is already coming to your Web site by examining your site analytics or log files. Chances are that the countries that are sending you a lot of traffic before you’ve done anything to your site are going to continue to provide a good market for your products and services.

4)      Register your domain name with the appropriate country-code top-level domains. There are rules that apply to the registering of these domains – some countries require citizenship, for example – but it is always worth trying to get the country-appropriate domain name to support your site.

5)      Practice patience. Just like your original business wasn’t built in a day, neither will your international extensions. It will take time for the local versions of your site to take off and for your site to become established in the markets that you’re trying to penetrate. Stick with it.

~ Today’s view:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1439224573/

Globalization, the Internet & Montreal

Monday, September 24th, 2007


Montreal flagThis summer, my husband Chris and I took a vacation from our home north of Boston to Montreal. When we were preparing to go, I asked a number of people who had traveled there in the past if it would be a big deal that neither of us spoke French. They all told us that it would not be a problem, that everyone in Montreal speaks both French and English. They described the Canadian city as being “very European” but said it was accessible, that we wouldn’t have any trouble traveling there even with our complete lack of French-language comprehension.

After hearing their reassurances, I admit that I didn’t think that Montreal was going to be much different than the United States. So I was surprised when we got to the city. The language wasn’t a barrier, exactly, but it was a differentiator. Although everyone I spoke to in Montreal did speak English, it was usually evident that they all would prefer to be speaking French. Every street name, sign, menu and all the directions that we came across were in French (although sometimes there was an English translation). And there were other subtle issues that made us feel like we were away – the food, the fashions, and the intangible but definite feel of the town that was so, well, different.

For me, our experience in Montreal served to highlight how hard it is to “go global.” I don’t mean this in a technical sense, because it isn’t difficult to set up a Web site that will reach an international audience. What I’m referring to is the ability to create an experience on the Internet that feels local to an international audience. That is very difficult indeed.

Certainly this isn’t a new challenge, and there are some companies that have been working on their international Internet strategies for years. The Global by Design blog has a great analysis of  the top 10 global sites. This list is comprised of both Internet companies (Google and Wikipedia) as well as more old-school technology companies (Cisco Systems and Phillips).  Along with these leaders, there are a number of Web 2.0 companies that are beginning to effectively reach into global markets. Flickr, the community-based photo sharing site, offers eight language options along the footer of every page. The site also greets its users with a welcome in a different language every time they come (today my page says “Shalom 16thletter! Now you know how to greet people in Hebrew!”) in an effort to make the global community “feel” part of its users’ everyday experience. Myspace.com announced in late 2006 that it would be extending its site internationally, and they now offer international options as part of each users’ account settings to allow people to customize their local experience.

But even though most companies have globalization top-of-mind when building their sites, it is still a challenge in the details. In this post from Angela Randall on allfacebook – the unofficial facebook blog, she lists the subtle issues that make Facebook annoying for her to use in Australia. Her complaints include issues such as the seasons (which are different in the Southern hemisphere), states (international states aren’t included in Facebook) and study levels (Australia calls different levels by different terms than are used in the U.S.). All of these issues create enough dissonance for her to write, “Yeah, we know Facebook was developed in the US and has evolved from there but it’s time to extend some of the usability to international users.”

Ikea logoAnd another example that I would offer up is Ikea. The Swedish furniture retailer is perhaps one of the most successful global sites today – the company’s home page features a list of countries from which to choose to customize my Web experience, and they do a good job when I arrive at the United States version of the Web site. But in a subtle way, perhaps because of that initial global landing page or maybe because of the slightly different design style that is the signature of the company and permeates the site, I am constantly reminded that this is not a U.S. company. This leads to the feeling that I am not “at home” on the site. It isn’t 100% comfortable and familiar.

And this is the heart of the matter – what does it mean that I don’t feel at home on the site because it isn’t 100% comfortable? That feeling, that experience – it’s not quantifiable or measurable by any scientific methods or usability testing. And it is just this type of intangible that we have to get right in order to effectively “go global” on a local level. And it is also what makes the process so difficult.

~ Today’s view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1432924547/