My first impression with Japanese Culture was introduced by my piano teacher back in Taiwan. There were Japanese comic books in the piano class waiting room for the students and every book was read at least “N” times as far I as I remembered. Of course, all books were translated in Chinese so that I could understand the contents of the stories. Although most were with obscure meanings at that time, I was still fascinated by the craftsmanship of the comic books and wanted to spend more in order to read their sequels and series. Even now, many foreigners are interested in Japanese cultures because of the comics they read or the animated features films they watched. The Japanese culture fan club has evolved even larger with the developments of the computers, tablets and smart-phones.
Recently, I came across some comments on the mobile site about people complaining that there weren’t enough English for those who wanted to shop for Japanese products on Amazon.co.jp. It made me felt the same way because I used to experience such frustration before learning the language. How could people develop the Amazon.co.jp mobile app leave out the possibilities of selling products elsewhere in the world? The fact was, the English part was taken care if you access the Amazon.co.jp site from the computer. I was just surprised that Amazon.co.jp didn’t include English on their mobile site. With the increasing population of smart-phones users, those who downloaded the Amazon.co.jp app were obviously for the reason of hoping to purchase the “original” videos or books directly from Japan through their finger tips. What would be the point of selling merchandise from the smart-phone app without considering the range of your potential customers? It would be a lie if a developer doesn’t know the people who use smart-phones or computers aren’t just limited to Japanese only.
The same goes with our company’s lines of smart-phone apps. I for one want to see our company’s AR apps for the the kindergarten (Hakodate Bus Guide), parking space, hotel, or even educational apps like “Fun!Fun!ABC”, “My Favorite Books”, and the future educational AR aquarium thingy to become not just good but phenomenal.
The irony of the business is, sometimes getting recognition from the market outside of your own country can reverse the trend back to your homeland. Many smart-phone users are in global scale now and most people download local apps as part of the cultural experience without traveling. As a foreigner in Japan, I have such habit of buying local apps prior to my trips to Taiwan, Korea, and America in order to get ideas or become acquainted with the towns. Sometimes, I even download the local grocery website from Europe just to get a taste of how the town life is like without going there. It was interesting enough if I find anything with English.
One commented badly about the Amazon.co.jp app and I quoted: “Japanese is a dying language”. I could not have agreed more. IMHO, people are watching the apps you have created and they are not just limited to those who speak your language. It would be regretful if you know the market is out there for you and you push it away just because “No Speaking English”. Believe it or not, sometimes your local app can lead to any business opportunity that is even beyond its development.