In the cult classic book, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," the Babel fish is a fictional animal that, when inserted into an individual's ear, miraculously makes any language understandable.
And, while in the book the Babel fish is damned given its impact, namely that "effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation,” the fact of the matter is that cross-cultural tensions aside, actually being able to understand what people with different languages are saying would be a fantastic thing.
This is, even more, the case when you are the creator of a website and you're keen to engage with more than just speakers (readers) of your mother tongue. But the difficulty with desiring your website to be readable by Mongolian speakers of the Khalkha language is that, unless you happen to be fluent in Khalkha, it is rather hard to actually translate your site.
Which is where Localizer comes in. The company, founded a year ago in Sydney, is all about helping its users target new markets and remove the language barrier. Like many startups (apocryphal or otherwise), Localizer came about because its founder couldn't find a ready-made solution to "scratch his itch," and therefore decided to create one.
Localizer is a fairly simple concept -- it is a website localization and translation platform that can make any website or web application multilingual with just a few clicks. The product doesn't need any development time, it integrates into a site using a single line of code. It is also cross-platform and can be integrated with Shopify, WordPress, Drupal and WooCommerce.
Unlike Google's translation services, however, which rely on algorithms and machine learning, Localizer actually leverages real human beings to perform the translation. The platform claims a network of 18,000 human translators covering 42 languages. And they're relatively quick (well, not compared to Google, but compared to other manual systems) -- human translation of an entire site takes no more than 2 days, and typically takes only 2 hours.
Localizer isn't ignoring the automated side of the translation house, however -- machine translation is available for over 90 languages, providing an instant translation. Localizer has also worked through the use case where content in a certain language is published to a different domain or subdomain (E.g. korean.mysite.com.)
Localizer has a bunch of justifications for translation services generally, the point to research suggesting that 55% of consumers will only buy from a website that speaks their language. And just to ensure that people aren't daunted by the huge number of languages on offer, Localizer tells me that a website will be able to speak to 80% of internet users by serving it in just 11 languages.
First things first -- there is very little disagreement with the contention that for all but the most geographically constrained of organizations, having a site in multiple languages and therefore able to reach a multitude of different people is a positive thing.
But the really thorny question when it comes to Localizer's opportunity is whether manual intervention will, in the future, continue to be a generally accepted requirement for translation. Or will Google et al continue to refine their algorithms and create automated translation services that are near-perfect? I am a relatively heavy user of Google Translate and, while the translations it comes up with are often the source of much mirth, I wouldn't really rely on them for mission-critical work.
So today, it would seem, there is a real opportunity for Localizer. How that develops, and whether it can compete in a future all-automated translation service paradigm will remain to be seen.
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