2.2 State of the Art

Now that localization has been with us for more than twenty years, it is no longer the special function of a single industry. Instead, it covers a great number of different industries. According to Lommel and Ray (2007:53), LISA is “the premier organization for the GILT (Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation) business communities”.

Up to now, there are more than four hundred members in LISA, who are from “leading IT manufacturers and solution providers, along with industry professional, and an increasing number of corporations from various vertical market segments with an international business focus”(ibid), including many government bodies and almost every segment of businesses.

In 2001, a very conservative estimate published by LISA showed that worldwide spending on localization was about $5 billion USD per annum, and perhaps it could be as high as $15billion. However, so far, there has been no special survey on worldwide spending on localization, therefore, it is difficult to figure out the size of worldwide market for localization.

Nonetheless, the 2006 Global Fortune 500 companies that localized their products and services had received total annual revenues of around $5.9 trillion, among which $365 billion is the profit. Assume only 10% of the total revenues come from international sales, which depends on localization, approximately $590 billion of the revenues would not have been made without localization.

Read Also: Localization and Translation Technology in the Chinese Context–1

According to the report in 1998 by David Brooks from Microsoft, it should be much higher. He reported that, In [Fiscal Year] 1998 more than 60% of Microsoft’s revenues came from markets outside of the United States.

The majority of these revenues come from non-English speaking markets, and a key component of Microsoft’s international strategy has been to lead the industry in the delivery of localized products to these markets.

In [Fiscal Year] 1998, Microsoft revenue from localized product exceeded $5 billion. Only five years ago, these figures were a fraction of what they are today, and as revenues have grown, so has Microsoft’s investment in localization (c.f. Lommel & Ray, 2007: 8).

Some LISA members’ international revenues are hovering around 70% (Lommel & Ray, 2007:9). Undoubtedly, localization is significant in their global business strategies, without which they might lose the position of world leadership.

While no definitive annual figure for the total localization market can be provided, it is estimated that “total localization expenditures by industry in 2006 have been approximately $30 billion” (ibid: 10).

This implies that it is a great opportunity for companies to make good use of localization for their products and services so as to increase their sales in the international markets and make more profits.

Take a look at how we helped our client by localizing their project for Chinese language. Click here to read the complete case study

It is appropriate to have a few words on LISA here, whose mission is defined as
…promoting the localization and internationalization industry and providing a mechanism and services to enable companies to exchange and share information on the development of processes, tools, technologies, and business models connected with localization, internationalization and related topics. (c.f. Somers, 2003: 84)

Now, there are three leading companies providing localization services, namely, Bowne Global Solutions, LionBridge, and SDL Trados, who are honored as the “Big Three” in the localization industry.

Localization is so crucial for selling products and services abroad that efficient and high quality translation is imminently required. To ensure the efficiency and high quality of translation, advanced and mature translation technology must be adopted in localization.