CT&D #71. Applied Design in the Industry

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After having been at an open house company presentation,

1. Name the event attended and list 3 things learned from the talk

2. Identify something that was unexpected

3. Identify something you’d like to learn more about

4. Identify something that has been inspiring 

The event I attended was called “Designing for Emerging Markets” for a company called Jana, located in Boston.

Three things I learned from the presentation include (1) finding out that the company specializes in providing the “mCent” app to countries outside the U.S. in which its users can download and try apps for free. How is this possible? The company partnered up with hundreds of mobile developers to eliminate the cost of data for people in those regions. Since the cost of purchasing a phone alone (due to high import fees coming from the U.S.) is enough to deter many from downloading apps to avoid those pricey fees, this model is definitely enticing.

More so, (2) given that Jana’s mission is to test and collect feedback from apps within mCent from those countries, an additional draw to lure users in is free and limited internet, which can be accumulated per app test a user participates in. Lastly (3), I learned that Jana operates and conducts their research with care given to concentrating on market hotspots (where smartphone growth is up by 78% in contrast to 22% here in the U.S.), which means lots of untapped smartphone owners whose participation is valuable to gaining feedback for improving apps for the future.

One thing that I found somewhat unexpected was the difficulty faced regarding the logistics set out by Jana and overseas mCent users to collect specific feedback. What was especially highlighted was the company’s emphasis on finding interpreters who didn’t simply “translate” whatever questions/comments/ concerns where brought up in the testing process but to rather properly “explain” in verbiage of how a user physically felt in experiencing an app (a feedback from the senses, not so much a scientific, word-for-word evaluation as sometimes this is lost in translation).

Overall, what I would want to learn more about in this field, or with how Jana focuses on their mission to spread app-adoption rates around the world is how many apps or what criteria is used to allow certain ones to be featured on mcent? From my own knowledge, I recall that a very, very small percentage of thousands of apps ever get downloaded, let alone actually used. Could mCent one day be the ultimate litmus test for all apps whose creators hope to gain traction when published and released on a smartphone? Because I’d be not the first to say that appstores are flooded with apps, most of which are useless and some of which could be hidden gems lost in a sea cluttered shovelware.

One thing that inspired me from the presentation was Jana’s marketing mentality and approach to various regions they reach out to for spreading their mCent brand. For example, Google is blocked in China, so what does the company do to counter this? Print advertising, online ads, forums. When the company does receive users downloading their app, loyalty is stressed by not only the aforementioned “payment” of free internet, but also by monitoring these actions professionally. In fact, what Jana doesn’t do is spam users with offers, which imitators of Jana often commit with little purpose. Those qualities that the company holds is valuable for me and anyone interested in entrepreneurial/ online/international business.

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