For companies where the principal barriers to market expansion have been localization issues, Lionbridge (news, site) and IBM (news, site) have just announced a partnership that could go a long way to helping by providing instantaneous translation of content between different language areas.

The agreement, which includes a multi-year software technology license and patent agreement, is for the development and commercialization of the technology. A precursor of what will finally be made commercially available has already been up and running in IBM for some time.

Using statistical algorithms, users will be able to instantly translate content from web pages, documents, customer support and even content contained in instant messaging applications, blogs and e-mail.

IBM, RTT And Lionbridge

Combining IBMs Real Time Translation (RTTS) technology and Lionbridge’s cloud-based translation memory, the two companies expect the new product to cut the costs of implementing machine translation by improving quality and processes that currently prevent its use.

Each application can be customized -- unlike free-ware translation applications -- and configured for specific business processes.

To achieve this Lionbridge has said it will set up a dedicated offshore development facility where developers will tweak applications to suit the language and business needs of customers. As yet, there has been no mention of when this product will hit the shelves.

3-way Deal

The multi-year deal consists of three parts:

  1. Exclusive Lionbridge-only agreement to offer SaaS text-to-text language automation solutions to commercial clients using IBMs RTT.
  2. Patent agreement so either company can access each other’s language technology and SaaS patent portfolios enabling them to share and deploy new technologies to capture new markets.
  3. Preferred partner agreement for development of translation technologies.

IBM And n.Fluent

When released, the new solution will be made available through Lionbridge’s platform on a subscription basis, which must be something of a coup as IBM has been developing and using it internally since at least last summer through its n.Fluent project.

When IBM announced last November that it had been working on n.Fluents, it described it as smart software that translates text between English and 11 other languages. IBM is using it to instantaneously translate electronic documents and Web pages across the entire IBM enterprise.

Every time it's used, n.Fluent "learns" and improves its translation engine. To date, the tool has been used by IBM users to translate more than 100 million words.

n.Fluent currently can be used for Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Korean, Japanese, French, Italian, Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, English and Arabic.

While this deal will probably ruffle feathers in a number of companies that have specialized language technologies and language services units like SDL (news, site), response to the deal has been generally positive with share prices for Lionbridge shooting like a champagne cork to their highest point in three years.

Interesting to see what happens to those prices once the product starts making its way into global enterprises.