Having been involved with a German publishing project at various times this year I have been fascinated with the use of the German language when it comes to IT. As most readers will know, if the Germans can interconnect three words into one extra meaty term then by and large they will do it.
Suddenly ‘computer keyboard cleaner’ becomes Computertastaturreinigungsmittel, which just sounds superb. But paradoxically, when they don’t have a completely new word, they seem to rely on using the English. Backup seems to be backup, shut down is often shut down – and so on.
Of course much of this is due to the abundance of English language software applications, not to mention the fact that almost all code is written with English (or should I say American?) at its core. Add to this the fact that Language portal Englishenglish.com reckons that, “More than 80% of home pages on the web are in English, while the next greatest, German, has only 4.5% and Japanese 3.1%.”
But why do I rant thusly? Well, I had it in mind that Germany shares so much of its IT backbone with the English-speaking world but rarely seems to drive any IT delivery of its own. Excepting the German offices of all the major international IT companies, what have these Romans ever done for us?
I spoke too soon of course, Deutsche Telekom last week launched its Softwareload (yay! one word not two!) download service in the UK. Softwareload.co.uk contains software applications for work and home and customers can apparently store their purchases securely on the site. But other than a neat electronic distribution service, is anything actually new here?
The company says that, “Products available at launch span categories such as anti-virus and security, data protection, photos and graphics, plus personal interest, leisure, Internet and browser software. Customers can store their purchases for up to one year in the ‘My downloads’ section and this service is free for customers signing up before the end of 2009 and £4.99 thereafter for 12 months.” What they mean is the storage option is free, not the software I presume.
Softwareload says its target market includes frequent Internet users who may not be experts but probably have some experience downloading software in the past and want a single portal for finding applications. The company’s argument rests of high Internet penetration in the UK and the frequency with which British users typically order goods and services online already. For that reason, they have extended their business model to hit the UK market it seems.
For mass market software application distribution there could more of a market here and Softwareload could do well. If you look at how the supermarkets dominate our food and drink consumption today, customers are certainly keen to have one-stop-shops as much as it pains me to even write the expression. Should application developers be aware of this trend when if they are thinking about going to market with the next big thing?