By Kee Nethery — December 12, 2016
This November, 72 percent of California voters said yes to Proposition 58, which overruled a previous ban on bilingual education in California’s public schools. This means that another language besides English is being spoken in California’s public schools. In a state with 41 million native Spanish speakers plus millions of native speakers of Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Bengali, Hindu, Nepalese, and Hmong, it seems only natural that public education needs to be bilingual.
It’s time the tech industry took note. Ironically, the tech industry in Silicon Valley has long outsourced its workforce to India, Eastern Europe, and Russia, yet has made little if any effort to insure its products and services are localized for any language outside of English.
That has got to change if app developers, in particular, want to reach populations outside of the English-only speakers. Not only is it necessary for app developers to reach out to non-English speakers for their financial survival but also for their growth into markets that are still untapped.
If app developers want to scale, they need to localize. Not everyone in the world has a computers, but more than 2 billion people own smartphones and the number is growing. The smartphone provides connection and knowledge to the world’s information plus services, such as payments, that make them a necessity for navigating life in the 21st century.
Passage of California Proposition 58 is a first step toward pushing the big three — Apple, Google, and Microsoft – to encourage developers to localize their apps for more than one language. In a state that is home to one out of ten Americans, and where more than half the population will soon not be native English speakers, it seems obvious that app developers who want to stay in business for the next decade ought to invest in localization immediately.