The downsides of keeping company or product names in English include the risk of not being understood by the few in-market consumers who do not read English letters. There are also issues of bidirectional text in mixed language string display. For example, a localized application into a right-to-left language, such as Hebrew, Arabic or Urdu, will have within the same string both right-to-left localized text and the left-to-right text of names left in English. This will cause word inversion bugs during testing once the localized application is compiled. An example of that is iPhone’s localized Hebrew UI version. When the English brand names — MobileMe, iPhone, Apple Store — appeared at the beginning of the strings, there were no text inversion bugs. However, when the English names appeared in the middle of strings, in between Hebrew words, word and letter inversion bugs occurred. Apple had to develop a tool that identifies problematic strings up front and flags them for translators.
This decision whether to leave a name in English or to localize depends on the target locale, target audience and vertical. This leads us to option number two, transliteration. In some languages, name transliteration from English to target languages may be a seamless process maintaining the original name phonetic pronunciation using the local character set. However, in some other languages, this could be a tricky and tormenting task. This is where the Western phonogram clashes with the Eastern ideogram. These two systems, language for the ears vs. language for the eyes, could even be considered opposites. . .