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Acquisition and Partnering Change Visual Localization Tool Market
Posted by Donald A. DePalma on June 19, 2007  in the following blogs: Technology, Translation and Localization
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Companies like Siemens and Symantec use visual localization tools from companies like Alchemy, PASS, Schaudin, WizArt, or newcomers like SisuLizer to create country-specific or language variants of their software products. Simply stated, these tools operate on the completed English code to produce a language overlay on the binaries. The advantage? Localizers don't need to touch the source code.

Sounds like useful technology, doesn't it? The problem is that it's been a very small product category. These software localization tools have been hobbled by under-marketing, minimal investment in sales channels, and the resulting low market awareness. Two announcements this week promise increased attention to this technology:
  • Acquisition. SDL announced that it acquired PASS Engineering for its PASSOLO software localization engineering technology. The SDL-PASS group will operate under the SDL-Trados Desktop business unit, and its product will be integrated into SDL TMS workflow. PASS's principals Florian Sachse and Achim Herrmann will move over to SDL and report into engineering and marketing, respectively The transaction cost SDL around US$2 million in cash and stock, a reasonable price based on PASS's 2006 revenue and industry multipliers. By any account, this is a real bargain compared to what it would have cost SDL to bring Insight, its uncompetitive localization engineering tool, up to the functional and quality level of market leader Alchemy's Catalyst product. While Alchemy is a long-time Trados integration partner, we don't expect the relationship to survive SDL's acquisition of its principal rival -- this funeral will be the first of several realignments caused by SDL's broadening product portfolio.

  • Partnering. This week Alchemy launched its Alliance Program, in which partner companies offer content-related technology that can be incorporated into Alchemy Catalyst and Language Exchange. Deliberately avoiding the "global information management" term favored by SDL, Alchemy notes that "these solutions can span the entire information lifecycle ranging from authoring content to localization to publishing." Alchemy's most recent Catalyst release extended its visual localization model to textual and graphical website content, while its Language Exchange integrates multiple translation memories. Alchemy announced its first partner in the form of online help software developer MadCap. CEO Tony O'Dowd hinted at some big names in content authoring and language services that will join the program in the coming weeks.
Why the sudden interest in what to date has been a backwater business? Both Alchemy and SDL have come to realize that creating and managing a customer experience requires both code and content, as we noted in our 2004 report on the Real World Enterprise.

Both firms are positioning themselves to manage the full range of digitized content for global websites and other multinational applications. Buyers win once these tools are integrated and they no longer need to make piece-part purchases. But Alchemy and SDL-PASS have to do a better job of getting the products and their benefits in front of the many software developers who still don't know they exist. Let the marketing begin.


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Keywords: Computer-assisted translation, Localization, Translation, Translation management systems, Translation memory, Translation technologies

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