Localization Services Industry: Does It Scale Down?

I visited Macworld 2011 in San Francisco. The event was dominated by mobile apps for iPhone and iPad and accessories (there was some stuff about music and television too). It was clear to me that the barriers to innovation in the mobile space are now very low, and apps can be developed easily by individuals rather than companies.

From a localization (translation) industry perspective what does this mean? Can traditional model LSPs scale down to one or two small jobs from individual developers? Do such developers even want to deal with LSPs? Talking with developers onsite at the event, their answer was “No”. Plus, large LSPs cannot plan around micro-development, predict demand and, given their overheads, will probably lose money on the job. Sure, they could roll up the little jobs into a supply chain, but what does that mean for the customer relationship with individual developers or localization quality? Probably not a great experience for developers.

That’s why it’s great to see cloud-based disintermediation localization options like Ireland’s Tethras (offices in Silicon Valley and Dublin) at places like Macworld. Tethras have already localized some very impressive apps for iPad and iPhone, and also some Mac apps themselves. Great disruptive solution, well positioned to match the mobile space’s innovation model.

Tethras have localized 3D4Medical’s apps into seven languages.

You can read more about disintermediation and disruption in the localization industry on Kirti Vashee’s blog.

Your thoughts about the matter? Find the comments.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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