Maintenance and Localization

Online guides are like underwear, if not changed regularly, they get smelly and nasty. There were some big changes in March 2019 from JR East: multilingual help support and SuicaEng. This has greatly simplified Apple Pay Suica setup for virtual cards but has required updates to my Apple Pay Suica Guide and Suica App guide.

I updated Apple Pay Suica and Suica App guides with new instructions and screenshots that follow JR East’s recommendation of using SuicaEng to add Suica to Apple Pay. Suica App is there for advanced users who need the extra functions and have the necessary Japanese language skills to navigate it on their own. It will have to do until JR East releases a multilingual version of Suica App.

Lots of people complain that JR East is incompetent because after 2 years since it hit the App Store, Suica App is still only in Japanese. After all ‘it’s only an app localization job’. Right?

Wrong, very wrong.

This is exactly the trap that Apple fell into with Apple Maps. The original Apple Maps team and management made the huge mistake of approaching the task as ‘creating a map app’. Only after the disastrous launch of Apple Maps in 2012 did it become clear that the job was not about creating a map app at all. The real job was creating and deftly managing an entire digital map ecosystem. It’s a job that Apple is still learning.

Suica App is really just an interface shell for all the gargantuan database systems piped into it from Mobile Suica Cloud. JR East will get the ecosystem internationalization job done eventually, but it must be a huge and expensive task with little hope of directly recuperating the costs. If JR East is taking their time to do system internationalization the right way, I have no problem waiting some more. It’s an investment in the future that hopefully leads to new business opportunities for the Suica platform and an easier to use system for everybody.

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