Apple iPhone localization favors .com over country codes

The Apple iPhone goes on sale today in the UK and Germany.

Awhile back I wondered how Apple would localize its Web keypad, which features the .com button to accelerate the input of URLs. I own an iPhone and really do make use of this button.

So I took a look at the German keypad demo today and here is what I found. If you look closely here, you’ll see that if the user presses and holds the .com key the .de button also appears:

iphone germany keypad

This is an interesting way to provide two such shortcuts.

But I think Apple made a big mistake here. The .de key should not be the optional button, it should be the default button; .com should be the optional button.

After all, the most popular German Web sites all have .de extensions. Even American companies that are successful in Germany, such as Google and Amazon, use the .de domain.

Now what about UK? Is there an optional .co.uk button available by pressing .com? Oddly, no.

What this says to me is that Apple either:

  1. Apple was in too much of a hurry to launch in Europe that it didn’t really put the time and thought into localizing the interface correctly.
  2. Apple did indeed take its time localizing for these two markets, but the folks in charge inherently believed that .com is more important than local domains.
  3. Apple tested the interface both ways in both local markets and found that this solution is indeed whats users want.

I vote for scenario number 2. What do you think?

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

2 thoughts on “Apple iPhone localization favors .com over country codes”

  1. I think it is a mix of 1) and 2).

    In the past Apple has gained some experience in internationizing its products. And the outlined solution (minus the default or missing options) is quite good, too.

    But I doubt if they tested the device with real people in the local markets. For example, as a German using mostly German Websites I would have stronlgy preferred the .de default.

    But usability engineering, esp. for international target markets, usually requires more time and money than usual. And I guess, that is where Apple took the shortcut.

  2. I would guess it’s 1. Or perhaps a variant: they may have architected the software assuming “.com” was the default, and they didn’t have time to change that for the initial German launch.

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