Mike, Chinese market (Pleco for learning Eng) -your thoughts

I'm sure you've considered marketing Pleco to Chinese learning English.

Why not?

You'd already expressed an interest in making Pleco available in other languages:
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by mikelove on Fri Jun 18, 2004 12:46 am
This is something we'd definitely like to do, but unfortunately we haven't been able to find a French/Chinese or Chinese/French dictionary to license yet (and same goes for German/Spanish/Italian/etc).
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For the Chinese market, you wouldn't have to license another dictionary--just translate the menus and remove the Pinyin.

I'm sure it wouldn't be easy to compete with the ubiquitous Kingsoft 金山词霸. I don't know about their mobile version* (reviews, anyone?) but their desktop software is the most comprehensive set of bilingual dictionaries I've ever seen providing bilingual definitions, examples (covering various usages), collocations; synonyms & antonyms, and even etymologies. Data-wise, it's a great product but the software end--cursor translator, 'NewWordPad', and absence of frequency info leave a lot to be desired. I use it as much as Pleco. I'm about to get the 2009 version just hoping to see some improvements. With Google's backing, maybe they've done something on this end: (8 May 2008 ... Google and Kingsoft launched today a free Chinese-English-Chinese dictionary.)

How many of us have proudly shown our beloved Pleco to Chinese? I'm sure the $100 US is the major deterrent from entering this market but that's competitive with electronic dictionaries. At least if my T3 gets stolen or dies (after warranty expiry, like my ¥1800 electronic dictionary), I haven't lost everything.

My guess is it's marketing. Am I right?
 

ipsi

状元
I believe there's more to it than just translating the menus, as they'd have to license a Beginner's Chinese-English dictionary, for example, and modify the behaviour of the HWR slightly, and remove stuff like the Stroke Order diagrams from the basic package, etc. And finding a method of payment that's usable by the vast majority of people in China (who could afford Pleco) yet still resistant to fraud. And then there's the joy of trying to compete with the brand of Kingsoft, Besta and the rest. Brand affects decisions quite a lot, possibly more than features. I believe there's been a discussion or two about this before.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
It's a lot more than marketing - design changes, new licenses for Chinese-friendly dictionary content, Chinese-localized support/documentation, legal hurdles (not just setting up a Chinese subsidiary, but regulatory compliance ones like adding support for the somewhat-unwieldy-on-a-PDA GB18030 text encoding format) - not impossible, but given the fierce competition and the fact that we'd only be able to charge maybe 10-20% of what we do now I don't know if it would be worth the trouble. At least not until we get a whole lot bigger.

The other-language support I mentioned is actually more for people whose native language is something other than English but want to learn Chinese - we have a lot of German/French-speaking customers now whose English is excellent and enjoy using Pleco as is, but of course it's always nicer to use software in your native language.
 
Re: Mike, Chinese market (Pleco for learning Eng) -your thou

While this is an old thread, a few notes:
Similar to the German/French/whatever markets, many of the Chinese in the market with money they are willing to spend also have good enough English to use the product as-is. That is, if you're Chinese and have an iPhone/droid, you're much more savvy to Western products (and their app stores) than your average Xiao Ming (or Joe). Reaching the rest of the masses, and you will be competing directly with the Chinese giants (Kingsoft, Lingoes, Youdao, etc) which are widely pirated (thus available at the wonderful price of FREE), and designed for the PCs that most of that market uses. Once droids/iPhones expand beyond the Yuppie-class, it might be worth pursuing. Right now, localization would not be worth the cost, based on an informal survey of smartphone using friends (even those with really, really poor English have no trouble figuring out how to use the software; text input is hardly rocket science).
 

radioman

状元
Re: Mike, Chinese market (Pleco for learning Eng) -your thou

...been off the board awhile, now taking University Chinese Classes, so I have a lot of "new" Pleco uses.

With regard this particular subject, I would say that all the native speakers appear to be able to handle the dictionaries being driven by English Menues just fine.

From what I can tell, the big differentiator would be the reader where English words can be clicked on and a Chinese definition can come up. Or being able to photograph a page of text with an iPhone 4 and English OCR it.

I was in my class showing the OCR, Teachers and students are fascinated.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Re: Mike, Chinese market (Pleco for learning Eng) -your thou

radioman said:
...been off the board awhile, now taking University Chinese Classes, so I have a lot of "new" Pleco uses.

With regard this particular subject, I would say that all the native speakers appear to be able to handle the dictionaries being driven by English Menues just fine.

From what I can tell, the big differentiator would be the reader where English words can be clicked on and a Chinese definition can come up. Or being able to photograph a page of text with an iPhone 4 and English OCR it.

I was in my class showing the OCR, Teachers and students are fascinated.
Welcome back, Ed.

English tap-lookups we've discussed before - quite doable, we just have to get to it in our (very very very long) task list.

English OCR is more dicey - our current algorithm isn't very good at that, so we'd either need to license a new one or use an open-source system like Tesseract. Which means some large combination of time and money for something that I'm still not convinced of the value of - it's very easy to type in an English word on a keyboard, how much benefit really is there to pointing a camera at it instead? And is this a case where having to key in the word manually provides a significant enough learning benefit (getting to know the spelling) that it offsets the slightly greater hassle?
 

radioman

状元
Re: Mike, Chinese market (Pleco for learning Eng) -your thou

I guess I am harkening back to my class the other day.

I had my book, took a picture of the page, highlighted half a page of Hanzi, and converted it all in less than a minute.

It was radically simple.

So, applying that to English, on the fly OCR of words I guess I was not contemplating as much as blocks of text for an English reader product.
 
Re: Mike, Chinese market (Pleco for learning Eng) -your thou

About 10 yrs ago, (when I was using a standard Chi-Eng electoronic dictionary) I saw an OCR pen translator in Hongkong with a mini LCD screen to define English vocab in Chinese. I was surprised how long it's taken phones to have that capability.
 
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