We talk about the first truly multilingual social network.
Billing yourself as a ‘multilingual social network’ might be a bit ambitious, but ambition is what fuels the team behind dudu.com. While the site is still in its infancy, its one goal is to create a site that allows users to connect with each other regardless of where they are or what language they speak. It’s a bold initiative that so far sees the site supporting three languages, with scope to add more as the site grows.
We sat down with Abdurakhman Zulumkhanov, Project Manager with DUDU communications, to find out more about the site and its plans for the future:
Can you tell us a bit more about how dudu started?
Dudu was founded in 2007 by Mr. Alibek Issaev, a Russian businessman who lived and worked in Dubai, UAE. The main concept behind the project was to create a platform for free communication between people of the world. With the invention of the Internet people had the ability to communicate over the distance, but there was still last barrier remaining for free communication – the language barrier. The project was in development for about 4 years and in 2011 it was first introduced to public in Alpha version, as a social network with a lot of great new functionality, but mainly – translatable content.
Dudu features a truly multilingual social network where users can chat with each other regardless of what language they are using – can you tell us a bit more about the kind of technology that powers this feature? Was it something developed completely in-house and does it produce accurate translations?
Machine translation research and development dates as far back as the middle of last century. There had been a number of various approaches that were developed to date. We based our work on previous researches and achievements and developed our own system in house. The system combines various approaches, but also features ability to self-improvement. The system has been in development for over 4 years now and was recently launched in Alpha mode. It still requires time to gather and process data and there is some tweaking to do, but we can say that we have reached impressive results that we are ready to share with the world. Another key thing is that the more users communicate on the network, the more posts and comments they provide, the better the system becomes. So every time someone logs in on the website they help us improve the system quality.
The site also recently won at the International Business Awards – what categories did you win and how did it feel for the team?
Dudu was the winner in “Best New Product or Service of the Year – Media and Entertainment” and “Best Software Programming/Design of the Year” at the 2011 International Business Awards, and honoree in “Most Innovative Company of the Year in the Middle East and Africa” and “Company of the Year – Media”. This was a very important event for the team, as it showed recognition of our hard work at a very early stage. It gave the team great incentive to keep up the good work and strive for new achievements.
Dudu also features a virtual currency and Bank system – what can you purchase with the virtual currency?
The virtual currency on dudu (called “Dullar”) can be used to buy and send virtual gifts to users within the website, to pay for upgrades and improvements in applications and games on the website, and will be also used for other functionality later on in the project.
What are ‘Worlds’?
World – is a user’s feeds page that displays entries and status updates by user’s friends, as well as news and entries from pages of interest the user is signed up for.
Are there specific geographical locations where you’re seeing a large number of user signups? Would you be looking to advertise the site heavily to the Middle East as a truly ‘Arabic-friendly’ site? Or do you have some other marketing strategies for the region?
We currently see people sign up from all over the world. Most of new users come from the Middle East, former CIS republics, and Asia. As we are based here, we would like our project to become a major point of access for communication in the Middle East (and later, of course, in the rest of the world as well).
You’ve currently got an iPhone application for the site – are you looking to expand to other markets such as Android or Blackberry etc?
Yes, the iPhone app is available for free at AppStore and we constantly roll out new updates to improve performance and functionality, majorly based on user feedback. We are also busy working on developing apps for other platforms and will introduce them in the nearest future.
Will you be offering at a later stage the ability for developers to plug in apps and games etc into the site?
Yes. In fact, we already have a quite universal API in place, through which developers of apps and games can integrate their products within the website.
What are your plans for the site in the next coming months?
There are currently three languages that are supported on the website – English, Russian and Arabic, so our further steps would be to add more languages, starting from the mostly spoken. We also plan to roll out a lot of unique, new functionality for social networking, which we believe would be a great addition to the existing functionality on the website.