Facebook: From 1 to 100 languages in two years

It was just over a year ago that Facebook started localizing itself for the world.

As I noted then, the company utilized crowdsourcing to spur its translation efforts. And though volunteers aren’t the only people translating content, a year later, Facebook has done an impressive job of going global.

Om Malik recently reported some key stats from Facebook’s global expansion efforts. Among them:

  • Facebook is available in 43 languages and is in the process of being translated into another 60 languages.
  • 40 percent of Facebook users are not using English.
  • 25,000 volunteers helped translate Facebook into Turkish last year, and there are now 9 million Turkish-language users signed up for Facebook.


Even though only 43 languages are available now, if you add the Facebook Translations application (which i really recommend doing if you’re into this sort of thing), you’ll see the other 60 languages in the pipeline — many of which look pretty much good to go.


Here’s what the Translations pull-down menu looks like:


So many languages my computer is lacking for fonts.

It’s a very safe bet to say that Facebook will support more than 100 languages a year from now.

.FR reaches one million registrations

France became a member of the million domain club with its one-millionth .fr registration on January 11th.

Here are the top six country codes based on registrations:

  1. Germany: 11,120,000
  2. China: 6,035,000
  3. United Kingdom: 6,010,000
  4. Netherlands: 2,545,000
  5. Italy: 1,426,000
  6. United States: 1,300,000

According to my calculations, France would be ranked either 10th or 11th overall, depending on where Switzerland and Australia stand currently. These numbers are changing very quickly, with China on a fast pace to take over the number one spot and Russia and India making good progress as well.For more information on country codes (specifically ccTLDs) check out our new Country Codes of the World map.

It’s a round world after all

I recently finished reading Redefining Global Strategies: Crossing Borders in a World Where Differences Still Matter by Pankaj Ghemawat.

Redefining Global Strategies

This book provides a strong counterpoint to Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat.

While The World is Flat may leave an executive thinking We have to be in Brazil and Russia and China and India yesterday! Pankaj emphasizes a more measured, sober approach to expanding globally. He also makes a good case for looking beyond the BRIC countries.

Pankaj argues that there are very few truly global companies. Most companies are going through a phase of semiglobalization in which “levels of cross-border integration are generally increasing and, in many instances, setting new records, but fall far short of complete integration and will continue to do so for decades.”

Pankaj says that companies should ask themselves if they should even go global to begin with. At a minimum, he recommends that companies apply his “CAGE distance framework.” CAGE refers to the four types of distance that companies must overcome to succeed in a new market: Cultural, Administrative, Geographic, and Economic.

This is a dense book and it feels academic at times. But don’t let that stop you from reading it. It is an important book and could help many executives avoid a lot of headaches as they invest millions and millions in, say, Brazil or Russia or India or China.

Here is a blurb from a New York Times review:

Very few companies are globally global, Mr. Ghemawat observes. Even Toyota became No. 1 in autos by linking operations within the Americas, within Europe and within Asia, rather than across them. Definitions of region can vary — not just continents but trans-Atlantic, Greater China, trans-Indian Ocean, Eurasia — and Mr. Ghemawat examines a variety of regional hub strategies. But the latter, too, is no strategic panacea: regional platforms can grow into regional fiefdoms.

“Nobody has figured out the optimal way to organize a complex global economy,” he concludes. That is because no single optimal strategy exists. Companies are left to pursue what Mr. Ghemawat labels A.A.A:  — adaptation, aggregation, and arbitrage — or, in straightforward English, multiple variants of individual tailoring.