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【经济学人】Kiwis as guinea pigs 新西兰人化身实验品


2015年5月31日 


A small, technophile country is a great place to test digital products

热衷新技术的小国是测试数字产品的理想之地

IN MEDICINE, trials are conducted on guinea pigs, rats, mice and rabbits. In digital businesses, tests are performed on New Zealanders. Their country is proving the perfect location for software firms, social networks and app developers discreetly to try out and refine their products. Take Microsoft, which last year made New Zealand its first test market for Sway, a new app that helps users create websites, and which has since been released into other markets. Other big technology firms, including Facebook and Yahoo, also use New Zealand as a development lab, as do games companies and small startups.

医药行业中测试对象是豚鼠,大小鼠和兔子。而在数字业务中新西兰用户是测试对象。该国正逐渐成为软件公司,社交网络和APP开发者细致打磨产品的绝佳地点。拿微软来说,去年曾把新西兰作为新应用Sway的第一个测试市场,这款应用可以帮助用户创建网站并自此投入其他市场。包括Facebook和雅虎在内的其他大型科技公司也将新西兰作为开发实验室,游戏公司和小型新创公司亦然。

Firms preparing to launch new products need to discover and fix any bugs before releasing them, and to see whether their servers can support lots of users at the same time. It could prove fatal to a young firm if problems emerge only after the products are up for sale on the Apple and Google app stores. Developers could concentrate their testing on, say, one American state or city, but customers for digital products are so prone to sharing things among their social-media contacts that it would be hard to keep the trial under wraps for long, says Ivan Kirigin, a software entrepreneur.

准备推出新产品的公司此前需要查修程序漏洞,并检测自己的服务器是否能够同时承载海量用户。如果等到新产品在苹果和谷歌的应用商店登陆后问题才暴露,这对成立不久公司而言可能是致命的。软件企业家Ivan Kirigin指出:开发人员可能把产品测试集中在比如美国的一个州或一座城市,但数字产品用户似乎更倾向于把东西分享到社交圈,这使得对测试产品长时间保密变得十分困难。

New Zealand’s relative isolation means that if a product needs to be modified significantly to fix faults or make it more appealing to consumers, word of its teething troubles is less likely to spread, thereby discouraging customers elsewhere from trying the improved version. If a firm finds that a particular product, or a new feature added to an existing one, is a resounding flop in New Zealand, it can quietly be dropped without having much effect on the company’s overall reputation. Facebook tried offering Kiwis disappearing messages (in the vein of Snapchat) and a tool that let users pay a small fee to promote their status updates to friends. It abandoned plans to roll these out elsewhere after New Zealanders nixed them. “If you mess up and burn that market, it’s not that big of a deal,” says David Stewart of Fade, a photo-sharing firm.

新西兰相对孤立的地理位置意味着如果公司要对一款产品进行重大改进来修复漏洞或使其更具人气,有关初期暂时困难的消息就不太可能宣扬,这样就不会挫败其他地区用户去尝试改进版的热情。如果一家公司开发了某种特定的产品,或给现有产品添加新功能,却在新西兰遭遇惨败,该公司可以在不影响其整体声誉的情况下悄悄中止开发。Facebook 尝试提供给新西兰用户消失的信息(类似于SnapChat)和一个只需支付少量费用即可用向朋友晒最新状态的工具。如果遭到新西兰用户的否决,那么把这些产品推广到其他地区的计划就会弃之不用。 “如果你搞杂了那个市场,甚至亏了本,这都不是什么大不了的事了,”照片共享公司 Fade的David Stewart说。

Apart from being technophiles, and always up for a challenge, New Zealanders speak English and enjoy similar levels of affluence, and similar tastes, to Westerners in larger markets. The population of 4.5m is also large enough to provide decent enough sample sizes for product trials, says Mr Stewart.

新西兰人除了热衷新技术,还常常乐于接受挑战,加之讲英语并且与在较大市场中的欧美客户享有相似的富裕水平和兴趣爱好。Mr Stewart认为,450万的人口足以为产品测试提供相当新西兰人除了热衷新技术,还常常乐于接受挑战,此外,他们讲英语并且与在较大市场中的欧美客户享有相似的富裕水平和兴趣爱好。Mr Stewart认为,450万的人口足以为产品测试提供相当充足可靠的样本空间。

Digital firms have other preferred locations for discreet trials. Chile is a popular test market for apps in Latin America: it is small and relatively affluent, and speaks Spanish, another world language. But few tech firms like having their test markets publicised. It is in no scientist’s interest for the guinea pigs to realise they are being experimented on.

数字公司有其他优选地点进行严密的新品测试。拉丁美洲的智利是一个受欢迎的应用测试市场。该国占地面积小,相对富裕,讲另一种世界通用语言:西班牙语。但是很少有技术公司愿意公开他们的测试市场。让豚鼠意识到它们正在接受实验测试,研究人员对此可没什么兴趣。

翻译:@Aurora云染 校对:@宝瓶子 (May 23rd, 2015 Business: Kiwis as guinea pigs)

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