Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Language a big barrier to penetration

To translate or not to translate that is the question!

For years we have been operating under the apparently false assumption that for most techies English is the common language and when it comes to software tools that target this particular segment of the population, language is not a real barrier. We looked at the number of visits to our site ( in the last 12 months by country and compared those to the population of each country for some of the developed countries. To make the comparison easier we normalized the numbers using visits from United States as the base. Proportionally to the population of each country for every 1 US originated visit we received:

From English speaking countries
  • Ireland -> 1.78
  • New Zealand -> 1.55
  • Australia -> 1.31
  • Canada -> 1.26
  • United Kingdom -> 1.19
Non English speaking countries
  • Italy -> 0.38
  • Austria -> 0.26
  • Germany -> 0.23
  • Spain -> 0.23
  • France -> 0.21
  • Japan -> 0.06
Since our tools are mostly tools for SQL Server it would have been nice if we had some idea of the penetration of SQL Server in those countries but, even if we corrected for that the gap between English speaking countries and non English speaking ones is striking and clearly highlights the fact that language is indeed an immense barrier even for our target audience (software programmers and database administrators). Of course, from this it does not necessarily follow that we should all rush to translating our sites and products into 10 different languages – whether that kind of an investment would pay off or not depends on many factors but it is certainly something we need to consider.

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