The amount of translated content is also showing big-time growth.
According to an analysis by venture capitalist and Internet industry specialist Mary Meeker, in 2013 nine of the ten top global Internet properties were U.S.-based.
For the record, they were as follows (in order of ranking):
- Glam Media
Only China-based Tencent cracked the Top Ten from outside the United States — and it just barely made it in as #10 in the rankings.
And yet … the same Top 10 Internet properties had nearly 80% of their users located outside America.
With such a disparity between broad-based Internet usage and concentrated Internet ownership, the picture was bound to change.
And boy, has it changed quickly: Barely a year later — as of March 2014 — the Top 10 listing now contains just six American-based companies.
Ask, Glam Media and Apple have all fallen off the list, replaced by three more China-based properties: Alibaba, Baidu and Sohu.
Paralleling this trend is another one: a sharp increase in the degree to which businesses are providing content in multiple languages.
For websites that offer some form of translated content, half of them are offering it in at least six languages. That’s double the number of languages that were being offered a year earlier.
And for a quarter of these firms, translated content is available in 15 or more languages.
What are the most popular languages besides English? Spanish, French, Italian and German are popular — not a great surprise there. But other languages that are becoming more prevalent include Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
In fact, the average volume of translated content has ballooned nearly 90% within just the past year.
The growing accuracy of computer-based translation modules — including surprisingly good performance in “idiomatic” language — is certainly helping the process along.
Moreover, when a major site like Facebook reports that its user base in France grew from 1.4 million to 2.4 million within just three months of offering its French-language site, it’s just more proof that the world may be getting smaller … but native language still remains a key to maximizing business success.
It’s one more reminder that for any company which hopes to compete in a transnational world, offering content in other languages isn’t just an option, but a necessity in order to build and maintain a strategic advantage.