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TEDxMunich 2014

TEDxMunich 2014

Yesterday, I attended TEDxMunich held at the impressive BMW Welt.  It was the kickoff of Munich Creative Business Week.  I was there for the announcement of Prezi’s new German localization.  Counting German, Prezi is now offered in six languages, the others being English, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese.

It wasn’t an obvious choice to localize in German.  Germany, like many European countries, has standardized on English as a second language.  According to Wikipedia, 64% of Germans speak English.  Also, English is the primary language for many German businesses.  Still, Germany is a key market for us and we want to remove all barriers to adoption.

After the TEDxMunich organizer kicked off the conference in English, the first speaker switched to German.  The second speaker followed suit—possible validation of our assumption that Germans prefer speaking German, even in a business setting.  Granted, a basic assumption.  The bigger question is will German localization influence more Germans’ to use Prezi.  We’ll see.

Why not localize in every language?  Because localization adds complexity and requires maintenance.  I prefer simplicity and despise unnecessary maintenance of any kind.  And despite the last few decades’ advances in the localization, every language localization has issues.  For example, German words are long.  Really long.  The legally mandated label for the buy now button is Zahlungspflichtig bestellen.  That makes for a big button or a teeny font.  Another issue for German (and Spanish and Korean for that matter) is that there is no equivalent to the word presenter.  Given that Prezi is presentation software, you can imagine the UI issues this poses.

After the break, the TEDxMunich organizer began the second half of the conference with a Skype call to Peter Arvai, Prezi’s CEO.  Peter inspired the budding entrepreneurs in the audience with the story of how he secured an early investment from TED that helped launch Prezi onto the international start-up scene.  He ended the call by announcing Prezi’s German localization.  The applause was decidedly enthusiastic.  A good sign.


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