Global Language Services Market Size

According to the May 2010 report of Common Sense Advisory (CSA), the global market for outsourced services and technology relating to the transfer of information from one language into another is more than US$26 billion – nearly double previous estimates. This includes written translation, software localization, website globalization, spoken language interpreting, voiceover work, dubbing, subtitling, and ancillary services such as desktop publishing and multilingual transcription. In the same report, CSA also published a list of the top 35 global language services providers. In addition to the usual suspects such as Lionbridge, Language Line, Transperfect, and SDL, the list also includes Hewlett-Packard’s Application and Content Globalization group, which comes in as number one on the list with reported revenues of US$457 million. That makes one wonder about similar groups within Microsoft, IBM, or Adobe, not to mention the US Government’s National Virtual Translation Center or the European Commission’s Directorate-General for translation services with 1,750 translators and 600 support staff and its counterpart for interpretation services with 500 staff interpreters and an army of freelancers. The size of the global market for language services is difficult to determine because most providers are privately owned and shy about disclosing their data, and because there is no general agreement on what services are included in this market. Any comments and observations are welcome!

By Jiri Stejskal
CETRA Language Solutions