In this week’s update for internationally-focussed digital marketers – Google plans the launch of a big, locally-tweaked service in China whereas Marks & Spencer still have a few tweaks to make before their Australian site is fully localised. Elsewhere, Yandex names some of the biggest events for the Russian audience; Malaysia blocks a website over articles alleging corruption at their highest level of government; and France contemplates moving on from a century of AZERTY keyboards.
Despite the dominance of Android smartphones in the Chinese market, Google’s foothold in the country has otherwise been minimal due to its unwillingness to comply with the government’s censorship demands. One significant result of this is that Android users in China rely heavily on Chinese app stores rather than the Google Play store that the majority of their international Android-using counterparts may be more familiar with.
However, Google is now expected to launch a Chinese version of Google Play in March. This version will be tailored for the Chinese market – and accounts will be separate from International Google services. Chinese payment platform Alipay will also be supported. However, the third party stores are going to present a significant problem for the Play Store. Well-established alternatives from Qihoo 360 and Tencent (360 mobile assistant and Myapp) are currently most popular, claiming around 25% of the audience each.
Stalwart British brand Marks & Spencer primarily runs a Europe-focussed business. In addition to a .com catering to the UK (but delivering to 30 other countries) as well as a multilingual .eu site, the business has now created dedicated websites for Australia and New Zealand. A piece on the Econsultancy blog offers an interesting look at some of the early localisation issues the site represents.
Despite offering much-needed free delivery (and prominently highlighting this fact), a few tell-tale signs keep the site from feeling properly localised at this stage. The fact that Australians know “thongs” as flip-flops rather than items of underwear was a fact that appeared on our own office “cultural facts” board some time ago – Marks & Spencer unfortunately uses the term to describe underwear. The site also lets a few references to winter clothing slip through despite the Southern Hemisphere’s rather warmer reality.
Regional calendars are invaluable for marketing teams anticipating the spending habits of foreign audiences – Oban produces its own global e-commerce and online travel calendar annually for this reason. Yandex’s Russian Search Marketing blog has picked out some key dates for the Russian market, including some smaller dates that didn’t make the cut for our own calendar.
Did you know that New Year is Russia’s biggest festival, and children expect presents to be brought by Father Frost? Or that Russian Orthodox Easter is at the beginning of May this year, along with the important Labour Day and Victory Day celebrations? The list is well worth a look, as even some of the more familiar dates are given some useful background information.
Medium, a social journalism website that features the work of non-professional writers alongside paid contributors, has confirmed that it is being blocked by Internet Service Providers in Malaysia. This is in response to the site’s publishing of work by Clare Rewcastle Brown, a British journalist behind the whistleblowing website Sarawakreport.org.
Brown investigated irregularities in the finances of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and alleges that $700 million USD meant for state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1DMB) ended up in the Prime Minister’s accounts. Medium has hit back saying that Brown’s posts will remain on Medium.com “until [they] receive an order from a court of competent jurisdiction”.
AZERTY has been the keyboard layout of choice for around a century in France. Oddly, in a country of sometimes zealously enforced cultural standards, AZERTY is only the de facto layout. It is not enshrined as the official standard and with good reason: The French ministry of culture and communication feels that the standard falls short when it comes to accurately typing French.
Specifically, AZERTY makes it difficult to type frequently-used accented and other special characters – and this is leading to some characters falling out of common usage. For instance, AZERTY layouts lack a straightforward way of typing “Ç”, (an upper-case C-cedilla) and common ligatures like œ and æ (‘œuf’ being technically more correct than ‘oeuf’). The Association Française de Normalisation (AFNOR) has been tasked with making a better proposal by this summer.
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National Library of China – Beijing photo by Flickr user IQRemix
Australia Day 2012 Thong Challenge photo by Flickr user Eva Rinaldi
Maslenitsa 2013 photo by Flickr user Garry Knight
Journalism in not a crime photo by Flickr user Khairil Yusof
AZERTY photo by Flickr user Alexandre Duret Lutz