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Monday, March 4, 2013

How CES influences the global strategy of translation and localization of the consumer electronics industry

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada, but its position and global influence extends far beyond the United States.1

Electronics product launches and announcements made at CES are usually featured on news broadcasts around the world, highlighting the fact that consumer electronics is a truly global industry. Industry leaders, aspiring developers and media representatives flock the four-day event from the established markets of Western Europe and the US, from the bustling technological hubs of Japan and South Korea and from the highly-populated, emerging markets of China, India and Brazil.

The consumer electronics industry has developed into a multilingual entity in which all announcements require fast and accurate translations of materials, including manuals, instructions, advertisements and press releases. These documents may contain technical terminologies and specific jargons that require professional translation and localization. Proper and accurate translations can lead a product to a successful launch or failure to capture the early adopters.

In the 2013 CES, Chinese smartphone manufacturers, Huawei and ZTE, presented and demonstrated their new products on “the tech world's biggest stage.” This bold move is an example of the importance for high-quality translation in the consumer electronics industry to be readily consumed by a global market. Huawei and ZTE, are planning to debut their products in China first and then to other countries, as part of their global growth strategies.2 In order to appeal to key established and growth markets, these companies need to localize their marketing and sales materials, but also ensure that they accommodate the diverse consumer sensibilities and expectations of each market.

The global span of consumer electronics and the need for translation services have implications throughout the entire chain of the business. Whether it is a localized advertisement, or an operating manual for camera or gaming console, the importance of localization in the consumer electronics industry has never been more prevalent.

A 2011 report from Euromonitor International pinpointed the potential pitfalls that international companies could face if they fail to prepare for the communication levels needed to effectively penetrate different global markets.3

The report stated, “One of the biggest hurdles that a retailer will have to overcome is in relation to the local differences required of their web site, in terms of language, the product offering, the need for different sizes, colors or designs, and in relation to customer service, where a retailer may have to converse with consumers in a foreign language. Localization of offering will require a lot of thought.”4

As one of the leading international retailers of consumer electronics, has been at the forefront of internationalizing its strategies. Amazon has pioneered in tailoring its country specific sites to provide maximum service to not just those countries, but to its adjacent markets to benefit from common languages and similar consumer habits. Unlike Amazon’s UK and US sites – where the use of English sees consumers from across the world frequently using them – Amazon’s French and German sites ( and see their domestic markets make up much higher proportions of users.5, however, is able to draw in additional major traffic from Belgian customers, while sees high levels from traffic from Austria and Switzerland.

As consumer electronics manufacturers and online retailers expand their international reach, the translation and localization is becoming an increasingly vital strategy. If an organization wants to instill trust and loyalty with its customers, partnership with an established language service provider is key to ensure accurate messages and documentation are conveyed around the world.

2 Fitzsimmons, Michelle and Roth, Alex. CES 2013: Top 10 Moments. January 15, 2013. Web:
3, 4, 5 European Digital Divide: E-Commerce Markets in Europe – Opportunities and Prospects. November 2011. Euromonitor International.


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Merrill Brink International, a leading language services provider with more than 30 years of experience, offers comprehensive, scalable internationalization, localization and globalization services for global companies. Our services include professional business translation, document translation, technical translation, website translation and more. We provide expert software localization and website localization services, supported by comprehensive testing services, including software testing and website testing. Merrill Brink is a recognized leading provider of software translation, medical translation and automotive translation. We also offer extensive legal document translation services including legal document review and machine translation. Contact us for more information.