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Suddenly Unicode became vital

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/04/magazine/04CHINA.html?pagewanted=all&position=

This piece on the NY Times scared the hell out of me. Basically it states that the size of the chinese economy is so big that it's dwarfing all other economies in the world. Although the writer tries to sooth the impact, the bottom line is, the chinese do what we do, almost as good and in number way bigger than ours. By "we" I mean the West.

Now, suddenly it hit me. If you're going to write software, your biggest customers will soon be chinese companies. Is your software prepared for it? Have you implemented any and all measures you could to make sure chinese users can use their natural language on your application?

RP
Sunday, July 04, 2004

Unicode's always been vital... or have you always just ignored the Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean markets?

Mr. O
Sunday, July 04, 2004

"the size of the chinese economy is so big that it's dwarfing all other economies in the world"

It doesn't say that at all. It does say China's GDP is only a tenth of the U.S.'s, though.

Ron
Sunday, July 04, 2004

And even Unicode isn't enough to represent all their characters/symbols.
But, use the browser, luke. :-)

Dewd
Sunday, July 04, 2004

And you are assuming they will pay for your software.

son of parnas
Sunday, July 04, 2004

I've been doing Unicode for years.  I didn't want to ignore my (potential) users in what must be the world's wimpier economies, like Japan, Europe, and the Middle East.  Oh, and Americans who need to deal with text from any of these countries.

Then again, my copy of "Unicode" is 3.0, 4 years old.  (It's the one that used only 16 bits.)  So if I have to release in a language that's not in the BMP, that might take a little work.  No Linear-B localization this year, sorry...

I really don't know what the deal with Unicode is.  As long as you take a little care to pick libraries that support Unicode, and don't assume that char=byte, there's really nothing you need to do.

M.U.
Sunday, July 04, 2004

I wouldn't worry about it, the Chinese will favor local software over foriegn product regardless of technical merit anyway.


Sunday, July 04, 2004

> your biggest customers will soon be chinese companies

I am sorry did you say biggest PAYING customers?

> Is your software prepared for it?

Hell no!

> Have you implemented any and all measures you could to make sure chinese users can use their natural language on your application

Nope, I really don't give a shit about their market at all.

Rick Magellan
Sunday, July 04, 2004

IT'S THE MARKETING STUPID

It's one thing to have a Chinese version of your software. It's quite another thing to actually MARKET it in China.

You'll need someone in China to market it.

That's been the biggest challenge we've had with non-US versions of our software. Translating the software into Spanish was relatively easy. However, we've sold very little because we don't have a good way to market in spanish speaking countries. 

Mr. Analogy
Sunday, July 04, 2004

<And you are assuming they will pay for your software. >>

You are absolutely right. They wont. ! Anyone who thinks they can make money of the Chinese government can also con the greedy emperor Midas into parting with his gold.

Microsoft has had a tremedous problem making an impact on the Chinese market. No one is willing to pay and the courts look the other way when Microsoft complains.

Karthik
Sunday, July 04, 2004

Mr. Anology,

In China its not the marketing that counts. Main problem is piracy. They simply wont pay and thats the experience of most multinationals.

Karthik
Sunday, July 04, 2004

> I didn't want to ignore my (potential) users in what must be
> the world's wimpier economies, like Japan, Europe, and the
> Middle East.

Isn't Japan like the second biggest economy in the world? Hardly wimpy.

Matthew Lock
Sunday, July 04, 2004

...

M.U.
Sunday, July 04, 2004

Ok. The Chinese steal for now, because that's all they can afford. But in a few years from now, some of them will be making mucho diñero, and they'll also want the status that come with it. Like Don Corleone (or some other mobster) they'll want to go legit, and hence start paying for the original products. Eventually the law will have to start to work in China.



Meanwhile, I'm talking about apps that grow from grassroots movements, like Nick Bradbury's or Joel's.

Imagine: chinese student in the US uses app XYZ to manage Sybase databases. Then he goes back to China, what does he take with him? The XYZ app. Now suppose he's a real popular guy, someone who all the other developers follow. Soon they'll be using he XYZ app. But can the app support them? Can it handle all the Chinese characters without a problem?

RP
Monday, July 05, 2004

If you think Unicode support is all that's required for any of the Asian markets you're sadly mistaken.

You might be able to break small niche markets such as utilities and tools but actual business applications are going to continue to be developed in the locale.

Simon Lucy
Monday, July 05, 2004

Unless things have changed in the last few years I wasn't informed there is _no_ piracy in China - there can't be. Since they're not signatories to the international copyright agreement, western copyright is meaningless in China and, thus, they can't pirate software there.

Until this changes I can't see it being a relevant market.

Mr Jack
Monday, July 05, 2004

That was an important piece of information, Jack. And I mean it.

RP
Monday, July 05, 2004

Why does the fact that China has a large and growing economy scare the hell out of anyone?  I thought it was much scarier when they had the worlds largest population, a communist ideology and a crappy economy doomed to fail to meet the material needs of its people.

The "good economy" game isn't zero sum.

name withheld out of cowardice
Monday, July 05, 2004

Actually, after a review of what Google can find on the matter it seems I was wrong. China is part of the international treaties on these things, they just aren't doing anything about them.

Until recently they had a government program to translate 'important' science textbooks into Chinese - no royalties paid, or even permission asked.

Mr Jack
Monday, July 05, 2004

This was precisely the position of publishing companies such as Collins in the US up until the end of the 60's.

Unless, perhaps you think that all the European authors should get paid their back royalties from before that time?

Simon Lucy
Monday, July 05, 2004

In the mid-80's places such as Israel were known as "one disk countries".  As in: You'll sell one copy there, and that would be the end of the market for you.

Since the Internet has done away with the need to ship physical product, even that isn't true anymore -- all it takes is someone uploading it to IRC.

This is a good reason why the ASP business model makes sense -- most of the IP stays on your web servers (aside from look & feel, etc).  It also allows you to track TCP/IP addresses -- you can call up a customer and say "Do you have anyone working in Moronica?" (implying a stolen password).  If not, you force a password change on that user's account.

The benefits of Unicode in an ASP model means that when you want to sell to a new market, all you have to do is localization -- translate the strings and/or graphics for them.  The rest of the app stays the same.

example
Monday, July 05, 2004

Simon I am not familiar with Collins viotaling existing copyrights. Please post details.

Janice Medley
Monday, July 05, 2004

Collins was simply one example and the Collins I was thinking of wasn't the dictionary publisher but the Collins Magazines group which became Macmillan, which also had nothing to do with Macmillan Press.  All US publishers at the time made use of the loopholes created by the 1909 Copyright Act which in essence meant if a work did not bear proper notice upon first publication, it immediately fell into the public domain (so-called "divestive publication"). 

Even if the work were published with  proper notice (so-called "investive publication"), the failure of the author to renew in a timely fashion would cause the work to lapse at the end of 28 years.  Because of these harsh consequences, courts interpreting the 1909 Act often saved works from the public domain by holding that particular ways of presenting a work to the public did not count as either "investive" or "divestive" publication. The need for such creative solutions was particularly acute for works which originated outside the U.S., in countries which imposed no notice or renewal formalities.

For foreign published english works there was a mechanism called 'interim copyright' which could be assumed to have applied.  This was relied upon by  British publishers until a separate 'universal' agreement in 1962.  This mechanism didn't cover english translations.

In the US piracy of European editions was rife in the years before the Second World War.

In some circumstances this could have been said to be a good thing.  There were pirate editions of Lady Chatterly's Lover as well as Nexus.

I doubt that any such editions though, whether they were published through the loopholes in the 1909 Act or simply pirated would be currently under copyright today. 

In 1978 the US extended copyright from 28 to 67 years, though the extension had to be applied for a particular work exactly on time, either before or after and it was invalid.  Hence an awful lot of works ceased to have copyright around 1978 even if there was an existing copyright in a foreign country.

Simon Lucy
Monday, July 05, 2004

My biorhythms must be off or something, it was P. F. Colliers I was thinking of, not Collins.  Maybe they'll come after me now.

Simon Lucy
Monday, July 05, 2004

I am not sure that China will EVER go legit. The main problem is not the people but the government.

See, you have things like corporate ethics. Every company i know has it in U.S , Europe and even in large companies in India. This helps prevent piracy. The software industry presses the government to stop piracy simply because they too stand to lose.

In China, the software industry is not so developed as US or India. The government is basically asking all its citizens to help themselves. I have heard that massive profit making companies are highly subsidized. So both of them are in bed and there is no question of one attempting to influence the other.

Karthik
Monday, July 05, 2004

Ever is a pretty long time.

-u
Monday, July 05, 2004

"corporate ethics" ?!!??!

Isn't that an oxymoron?


Monday, July 05, 2004

I would say the problem, at least for now, isn't the government but rather the people! The Chinese I know do not seem to have the same strong notion of authorship as Westerners, they are more into community ownership (I am talking about intellectual property, not capitalism vs communism - although this may explain why communism took hold there). This is good in some ways - e.g. for the creation and dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge, but bad in others - difficult to enforce copyrights and patents.

Some categories of software have maintenance or customization as a big part of the overall value. In this case, losing the sale price doesn't matter as much, since users who don't pay for support will have a tough time getting anything out of the software. I'm talking about very high-end specialized applications. I don't think it will be profitable to sell desktop software in China for a while at least.

Dan Maas
Monday, July 05, 2004

To add to Simon's discourse: one of the most famous examples of US copyright brigandry was the Ace edition of Lord of the Rings, published with nary a penny to be paid to JRR Tolkien.

Rodger Donaldson
Monday, July 05, 2004

QUOTE:
============
The Chinese can, on average, buy nearly five times in goods and services per dollar what an American can with the same dollar in the U.S.
============

Yay. Let's all sell our goods & services for 1/5 their current US price.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Chinese communism works because it is Confucianism made for an industrial society.

There's considerable feeling within the developing world, regardless of China, that the West's laws on intellectual property are a tax on them, just as  pharmaceuticals, automobiles and most everything else are proportionately more expensive whilst at the same time the wages they receive to produce those goods, or components of them is disproportionately too low.

And this is an awful long way from Unicode and the requirements for developing software to sell into China and the rest of Asia.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Shut up.  Everything is just a stream of text.  Ascii

UNIX
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

http://www.business2.com/b2/web/articles/0,17863,650408,00.html

You think China is big?

India's middle class is already bigger than the entire US population.

Have you tested your software to support British English and Hindu yet?

T.J.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Population density of the world (map):

http://www.ciesin.org/datasets/gpw/globldem.doc.html


Countries Ranked by Population: 2004
--------------------------------------------------------
Rank Country                                  Population
--------------------------------------------------------
  1 China                                1,298,847,624
  2 India                                1,065,070,607
  3 United States                          293,027,571
  4 Indonesia                              238,452,952
  5 Brazil                                  184,101,109
  6 Pakistan                                159,196,336
  7 Russia                                  143,782,338
  8 Bangladesh                              141,340,476
  9 Nigeria                                137,253,133
  10 Japan                                  127,333,002
--------------------------------------------------------
http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idbrank.html

China & India are like the Coke & Pepsi of population. Americans are a minority in the world. We're not even plurality. A dollar in China can buy 5 times what it can in America, but there are 4.3 times as many people to consume it!


You might also be interested in various population densities:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_density

Country:     Density per sq. Km:
India     319.3
China     134.1
United States     31

Interestingly, Vatican City beats all of them combined with 2023 people per square km.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, July 07, 2004

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