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Google Beats Facebook in Popularity Because it Supports More Languages (For Now)

John Yunker co-founder of Byte Level Research and author of The Web Globalization Report Card writes: "The big story this year is that Facebook and Google finished in a numerical tie. But because Google supports more languages (for now), it edged out as the winner. ... Even as we look across all 225 web sites, the number of languages continues to increase. Although the rate of language growth slowed over the past two years — due in large part to the global recession — growth continues. This year, the average number of languages increased to 22, up from 20 languages in 2008."

Related topics: Multilinguism, Web

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Comments

"Although the rate of language growth slowed James Riso  –  Mar 03, 2010 2:46 PM PDT

"Although the rate of language growth slowed over the past two years—due in large part to the global recession—growth continues"

Why bring the recession into this?  The primary reason strikes me as common sense.  Companies will cover the most popular languages first, so after ~22 languages, we're talking about very diminished returns to marginal translations (Wiki has some ballpark figures).  For many, the growth in potential audience is probably not worth the investment.

I don't disagree that there aren't diminished John Yunker  –  Mar 03, 2010 4:30 PM PDT

I don't disagree that there aren't diminished returns when you get past 22 languages — in both audience and revenues — but there are still plenty of opportunities. And if you manage your translation budget well, there's no reason companies can't achieve a positive ROI from supporting 30+ languages.

Thanks for the reply. I guess James Riso  –  Mar 03, 2010 7:04 PM PDT

Thanks for the reply.  I guess I was more worried by your observation that "the rate of language growth slowed" when that struck me as natural.  It makes sense to me now that you're be commenting on the effects on top of base expectations.  Interesting stuff.

And you're absolutely right that there is John Yunker  –  Mar 03, 2010 8:22 PM PDT

And you're absolutely right that there is a "language curve" that companies progress along as they expand globally. In the early part of that curve, a company may add 3-5 languages per year and then this will taper as they get move up the curve. There are exceptions, like Facebook, which banged out 70 languages in two years, but clearly an exception. So I'll revisit the wording of my blog to make this clearer. Thanks James.

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