CT&D #71. Applied Design in the Industry

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 paid apps for free. How is this possible? The company has partnered up with hundreds of mobile developers to create a directory of their apps in order to eliminate the cost of data for people in those regions in downloading individual apps outright. 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 storage fees, this model is definitely enticing.

More so, (2) given that Jana’s primary mission is to test and collect feedback from apps within mCent from those countries (to presumably sell that information to the app devs), an additional draw to lure users in is free limited internet, which can be accumulated per app survey that a user participates in (how does Jana provide free Internet overseas, I do not exactly know). 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 in gaining feedback for improving various types of apps catering to widespread global use 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, and concerns that where brought up in the testing process through surveys 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).

Here’s an interesting infographic about app usage around the world. I do not envy the task of surveying which apps succeed and which don’t given the difficulty of a new app being widely adopted in an already oversatured market.

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 through collecting feedback is how many and which apps or what criteria is used to allow certain ones to be featured on mCent for testing? From my own knowledge, I recall that a very, very small percentage of thousands of apps ever get downloaded, let alone are actually used. Could mCent one day be the ultimate litmus test for all apps whose creators hope to gain traction when published and be released on a smartphone? Because I would not be 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 in marketing their mCent brand in foreign markets. For example, Google is blocked in China, so what does the company do to counter this? Print advertising, online ads, and forums. When the company does receive users downloading their app, an incentive as well as loyalty is built by not only the aforementioned “payment” of free internet (which is insanely valuable), but also by monitoring these actions professionally (and not with a reckless indifference towards invading privacy to gain intel on user habits beyond what’s appropriate to look for). In fact, what Jana doesn’t do is spam users with offers, which imitators of Jana often commit with little legitimate purpose. Those qualities that the company holds is valuable for anyone like myself interested in and inspired to seek work in the entrepreneurial, online and / or international marketing sectors.

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