Not all that much, actually. While the word “competition” always rears its head when discussing translation and interpreting, the reality is that this year’s list of the top-ranked global language service providers (LSPs) do not all necessarily compete with each other. Some are military contractors, while others focus on commercial translation. Some are specialists in telephone interpreting, while others call localization their bread and butter. In 2011, the industry has grown, not just in size, but in diversity of specializations.
The global market for outsourced language services and technology will reach US$31.438 billion in 2011, according to our latest study, which identified 25,256 unique suppliers of translation and interpreting services across 152 countries. The market is growing at an annual rate of 7.41%, based on our survey of 912 language service providers.
We’re also pleased to announce that our latest global ranking, “The Top 50 Language Service Providers,” is now available for download (free with registration). The full 75-page report, “The Language Services Market: 2011,” is also hot off the press.
Inquiring minds – and fans of our annual ranking and sizing exercise – may be curious to know what’s new this year. Here are some of the highlights:
- 50 companies – yes, you heard us right. Six years ago, we started out with a modest but important exercise to list the 20 largest language service providers in the world. Each year since, we have expanded the scope of our exercise, revealing a larger global Top 35 list in 2010. This year, we plunged our list even deeper into the supplier space to produce a ranking of the Top 50 companies. As we’ve explained before, our ranking is voluntary in nature. In other words, if a company you believe should qualify isn’t listed, rest assured we didn’t forget about them. Some companies simply prefer not to share their private financial data.
- Expanded regional rankings. Last year was our first year to publish regional rankings for Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America – plus all four regions of Europe (Northern, Southern, Western, Eastern). This year, we expanded our rankings to include more providers. We believe that this kind of transparency is good for the industry, and with each passing year, we encourage more companies to come forward. Many organizations told us they found partners and providers thanks to those first-ever regional rankings.
- In-depth analysis of data and trends. This year, we collected data from 912 LSPs around the world. Roughly half of them reported their exact revenue for 2009 and 2010, along with projected revenue for 2011. The remainder reported their revenue ranges. We also collected numerous other pieces of data from this significant contingent of the supply side of the market, enabling us to track how things are changing – the sectors that make up the market, the services that are growing the fastest, and so on.
Some other interesting findings worth noting this year:
- More big companies than ever. The five top-earning firms this year are Mission Essential Personnel with 2010 revenues of US$588 million, Hewlett-Packard's Application and Content Globalization group ($460 million), Global Linguist Solutions ($435 million), Lionbridge Technologies ($405 million), and TransPerfect/Translations.com ($252 million). These five companies alone contribute more than US$2 billion to the market.
- Some companies are even bigger than they appear. Global Linguist Solutions noted that its revenue reflects only three quarters, due to a recent change in fiscal year. The revenue for Welocalize (#18 in the Top 50 global list) reflects language services exclusively. Had Welocalize opted to include its technology revenue in the total, the company would have been listed as #15 in the Top 50, with total revenue from language services plus technology of US$59.61 million for 2010, a significant jump above the services revenue of US$44.71.
- A bigger market growing at a slower pace. The market will surpass US$31 billion in 2011, which is higher than we had previously estimated. However, due in great part to losses in revenue among larger companies (in the size range of 100 or more employees), the market growth rate slowed considerably from 2009 to 2010, to a rate of 7.41%. This rate is based on actual reported revenues from 2009 to 2010. However, we noticed that the forward-looking growth rates for 2010 to 2011 appeared to be significantly higher.
There’s plenty more to report, but before we start issuing spoiler alerts, we encourage you to download the ranking and see for yourself where the market stands in 2011.