According to a recent trend analysis by the Internet expert Mary Meeker, underscoring the increasingly global nature of the Internet, one aspect requiring closer consideration is the number of languages spoken by their rapidly broadening customer base.
According to a previous report for some perspective, in 2013 nine of the top 10 global Internet properties were based in the United States. The list included, in order of ranking:
As of January 2013, these companies reported that 79% of their users were based outside of the United States. The only non-American company to make the list in 2013 was Tencent (China), which ranked #10 on the list. By March 2014, and the picture has changed radically; only six American companies remain in the top 10. Apple has dropped off the list, along with Ask.com and Glam Media, ousted by Alibaba (China), Baidu (China), and Sohu (China), all of which are slightly ahead of Amazon, which now occupies 10th place.
As a result of this shift, North American companies are now offering a wider range of choices to global customers. Over the past several years, there has been a strong upward trend in the volume of content that businesses are offering in other languages. In addition, the sheer number of languages translating into is steadily increasing.
The latest Adotas data on global content trends, supports Meekers findings, showing the following:
Meeker’s top three companies, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, remain unchanged in their ranking from 2013 to 2014. All three of these companies pay extremely close attention not only to geographic trends online, but also to language trends. The number of languages offered by Facebook represents 90% of the world’s population and 95% of people with access to the Internet. When Facebook launched its site in French, its number of users jumped from 1.4 million to 2.4 million in three months. After launching its Italian site, the number of users in Italy jumped from 375,000 to 933,000 in four months.
As more people look to participate in the Internet economy in various parts of the world, concludes the report, businesses must keep pace with the languages needed to reach potential new customers in order to grow and compete. Companies that offer content in other languages will build and retain a strategic advantage over their competitors, as Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have done.
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