One of Google’s goals is to give people the information they want, wherever they are, in whatever language they speak, and through whatever device they’re using. A huge part of that goal is making their services available in as many languages as possible.
The efforts to make Google products available in as many languages as possible dates to 2001, when they started “Google in Your Language”, which lets volunteers translate and edit translations of Google products in their native languages.
As more and more users, advertisers, and partners interact with Google across the world, the need for local products has become even more obvious. In 2007, they undertook a company-wide initiative to increase the availability of their products in multiple languages. They picked the 40 languages read by over 98% of Internet users and got going, relying heavily on open source libraries such as ICU and other internationalization technologies to design products. Do you need web search in Chinese or AdWords online support in Spanish? Perhaps Google News in Hindi or Google Scholar in Korean? Not a problem.
Here’s a taste of how far they’ve come:
* 30 in 30: Today Google has more than 30 products in more than 30 languages, up from 5 products in 30 languages just a year ago.
* In 2004, they had 150 local-language versions of various products (e.g. a product local to the UK, not just the English-speaking world); today they’re at more than 1500.
* From January to March of 2008, they launched 256 local-language versions of various products, compared to 55 in the same period of 2007.
* They’ve upgraded to Unicode 5.1 to make sure that they can handle any characters people read or write in.