If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Compete With ‘Em

The Journal writes about Hollywood’s strategy to (finally) begin discounting DVDs in China in an effort to be more competitive with the pirated DVDs.

The discounted DVDs will still cost roughly three times what the pirated versions cost, but at least we’re in the same general ballpark. I suspect a growing number of newly affluent Chinese will pay a premium for a higher-quality movie, not to mention all those DVD “extras.”

But what is particularly interesting is Warners’ plan to coordinate DVD releases in China with theatrical releases in the US. According to the article…

Warner Bros. plans to release more than 125 movies this year in China, including hoped-for blockbusters like “Batman Begins,” around the time of its U.S. theatrical release. They will sell at two price points: $2.65 for relatively basic discs, with English and Mandarin dialogue tracks, and $3.38 for fancier versions with extra footage and language enhancements.

So this means that Chinese consumers will have a head start on Americans in getting the newest DVDs. I wonder if we’ll see an underground market develop as Chinese begin selling these DVDs back to Americans.

Despite the inherent risks though, the studios have little choice but begin testing lower prices. Even at these cut-rate prices, there is a good potential for profits should enough Chinese begin bypassing pirates for Hollywood.

Hollywood is not alone in its struggles with emerging markets. Microsoft is working on a lower-priced operating system for countries such as Thailand, India and Indonesia, referred to as Windows Lite. I’m less optimistic with Microsoft’s approach because instead of just cutting prices (which is what Hollywood is doing), Microsoft is cutting features.

Getting to Know Global IA

I’m at the IA Summit in Montreal and have been pleased to find that IA (information architecture) professionals are tackling the challenges of content globalization in a big way. And this is a great thing, because the IA industry is critical to the evolution of truly successful global Web sites.

I’m not much of an IA guy, so I’ve been getting up to speed on industry buzzwords like facets and taxonomies and folksonomies. And the presentations by far have been terrific.

There were a total of four sessions that spoke directly to content globalization, touching on everything from translation testing to global IA (I gave a talk on one of my favorite topics, the global gateway). And there were a good number of attendees across these sessions — mostly internal IA professionals and their agency counterparts. I did not find one localization industry professional (besides myself), but I expect that to change in the years ahead.

Thanks to the efforts of Louis Rosefeld, Peter Van Dijck, Jorge Arango, Livia Labate, and many others, I expect we’ll see some really exciting things coming out of the IA industry, which will have a large impact on the localization industry. My personal goal will be to do what I can to get the localization industry and the IA industry to work more closely together to share insights and do a better job of advancing global Web sites, from taxonomy to translation.

PS: I spoke with more than a dozen IAs who are all working on brand new multilingual Web projects (from IT to services to apparel), another strong sign that companies have awakened to the importance of Web globalization. I said it before and I’ll say it again: 2005 is the year that Web globalization goes mainstream.

Web Localization Into English

Because I spend the bulk of my time talking to US executives about expanding globally, my focus is typically on creating non-English Web sites. But Web globalization cuts both ways. If you’re a Russian company, for example, you’ll need an English-language Web site if you want to expand in the US. Most companies do this by default, but it’s no less challenging than an American company launching a Russian-language Web site. Often, companies do a fairly poor job with their English-language sites the first time out.

According to this article, the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange (MICEX) just launched an improved English version of its Web site.

micex.jpg

I took a look at the MICEX site and it’s clear they put a lot of effort into it. Everything from press releases to the feedback form and FAQ are in English.

According to the press release…

    …new English version of the MICEX’s web site will help to raise the transparency of the Russian financial market, which, considering Russia’s growing investment rating, is essential for attracting the attention of international investors.

It’s all about money. If you want money from people who don’t speak your language, translation is step one.