Depending on who you ask, Spotify’s highly anticipated German launch has been delayed due to problems with translation (aka localization). TechCrunch writer Mike Butcher covered the story yesterday:
Spotify seems a little late to the German party, but as Bringéus told Focus Magazine today the company “allowed a little more lead time” because of translating the site, establishing German partnerships and building a team.
Some speculate that the delays are due to to the “notoriously difficult” GEMA, but for the sake of this blog post, let’s take them at their word and focus on the localization issues.
In terms of testing complexity, Spotify’s streaming music application would rank somewhere near the top, so few could fault them for the delays. After all, they are not simply translating a static web page, but rather localizing a highly diverse, customized application. There’s literally a world of difference here. To get a better grasp of these challenges, let’s revisit a great quote from Google engineering exec Patrick Copeland, who should know a thing or two about launching products in new markets:
“Not surprising, our global customers have different demands of our products. We want products to ‘feel local’ and we need to support features that may be unique to specific markets. For instance, in Indic-based languages using a standard keyboard is difficult, so we develop strategies like virtual keyboards or category browsing for search. As we specialize our products for certain markets, it introduces more challenges for testing (eg. requiring special cultural knowledge). When we can’t find internal talent, community-based testing is an interesting solution to this challenge.”