Website Localization: The American Takeover

U.S. companies are getting better and better at zeroing in on just what their website readers need. Photo courtesy of orvalrochefort on Flickr.

A recent article in Technorati noted that U.S. localization companies have a greater share of the market in website localization than European ones.  This seems surprising, since the average European knows more languages than a typical American.  Why, then, are U.S. companies making such strides in this sector?  We have a few ideas.  What are yours?

  • The U.S.'s relative linguistic isolation could actually be an advantage.  Because most Americans can only understand websites in English, they appreciate better than people from a multilingual culture the need to have the content available in other people's native tongues.
  • Many foreign speakers live or study in the United States, giving them a deep understanding of U.S. culture as well as that of their native land.  Such individuals are ideal candidates for adapting American content to websites for natives of their homelands. 
  • Americans are known for being down-to-earth, driven businesspeople.  They know a chance to streamline when they see it.  Website localization is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach more customers. 
  • U.S.-based companies are expanding into the global market at a rapid pace, and may be most comfortable having their content localized by U.S.-based language service providers. 

Do you think the trend will continue?  Will the United States, long thought to have such homogenous, inward-looking citizens, continue to take over a market to which Europe seems so suited?  Perhaps Americans have long been more willing to engage with foreign markets more than people generally assume - and website localization has provided the perfect opportunity.