Launched in the Alley: Ackuna. Crowdsourced App Translation

Launched in the Alley: Ackuna. Crowdsourced App Translation


Programming may be zeros and ones, but translating what an app can do for humans usually requires a few vowels and consonants, not to mention a knowledge of the nuances of the language and culture you’re targeting when you’re translating your app into something other than your native language. Ackuna addresses that by crowdsourcing the solution with real human translators. Capisce?


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How did you come up with the name Ackuna?

Ackuna is originally a take off the word “lacuna,” which can mean a ‘gap or missing part in language’ –  although we changed it enough so that it doesn’t really mean anything in particular.  It’s just a fun, memorable word.

Tell us about the service.

Ackuna is the world’s first and largest free crowdsourced translation system designed by and for app developers. App developers can upload various text strings, and localize apps for Android, iOS, Blackberry and other platforms.  Ackuna can translate the purpose of the app into over 20 different languages, such as Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Russian and many others.  This allows developers to reach more users worldwide, and significantly increase their revenue.

How is it different?

Ackuna is a crowdsourced translation service, translated by humans and we offer both free and paid services.  Translation machines such as Google Translate and Babel Fish are statistical machine translations.  Although Google translator translates word-for-word, it can not comprehend emotions or the underlying meaning of that word. Machine translators tend to be inaccurate and unreliable compared to our method, which is crowdsourced.  Crowdsourcing allows peer editing, which goes back to the famous saying, “two heads are better than one.” Ackuna’s method allows translations to be continuously reviewed and rated until our customers are fully satisfied. Ackuna is fast, automated and is essentially a machine translation powered entirely by humans.

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

Ackuna is tapping into the online foreign language market as well as the game development market.  The online foreign language market is exceptionally large.  As of 2010, there are an estimated 445 million Chinese, 154 million Spanish and 99 million Japanese language users online.  Fast-increasing language users, such as the Chinese, will fully dominate and replace English as the top online language users within a matter of time.  According the ESA annual report, the computer and video game industry took in about $11.7 billion in 2008 and 25.1 billion in 2010.  Games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops, took in over $650 million of sales in the first five days it was released.  This game set a global record and its income was larger than the opening weekend of the well-known movie Spider-Man 3.  In June 2011, the global video game market was valued at $65 billion.  According to Ben Sawyer, CEO of Digitalmill, there were 600,000 established online game community developers by 2012.

What is the business model?

Ackuna’s business model is basically democratic.  We use crowd-sourcing to get opinions on translations from other translators.  This allows the user to view other translations they’ve done, and judge for themselves if something is accurate.  We use a public ranking system on our translators, which also allows the user to gauge accuracy based on the translator’s reputation.  Ackuna’s business model mirrors E-bay’s and Amazon’s model, in that the users can pick their products based on customer reviews.  If they merely want free translations, then we give that to them via crowdsourcing.  However, if they require immediate, 100% accurate results, then they can choose the Professional translation option, which is a paid service, and they receive their translation within 24-48 hours, completed by a single professional translator with a background in the app’s particular subject matter. Ackuna gives the power to our users, which provides an overall larger satisfaction to our customers.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within 6 months?

Within 6 months, we are hoping to reach 200,000 individual translations, 20,000 users and over 2,000 totally completed projects.  We are well within this reach at this, if we continue on the same track we’ve been heading these past couple of months.

Why are you launching in New York?

Well, we live here, so that is one of the major reasons why we are launching close to home.  But also because New York is quickly becoming the East Coast version of Silicon Valley.  There are numerous tech companies that have either opened an office here in New York, or are just starting out.  New York has a great atmosphere for innovation, not to mention the enormous melting pot of different cultures and language speakers.  It’s the perfect place to launch a company such as Ackuna.


About the author: AlleyWatch

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