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General strike against TRADOS and other expensive CAT tools
Thread poster: Thomas Johansson

Åsa Campbell  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 19:20
Member
English to Swedish
Market economy Feb 23, 2011

Thomas,

What Heike and I are trying to point out is that supply and demand is a basic rule in a market economy (different from planned economy) and will affect any business/profession in that market. This has nothing to do with pressure. If there is a demand for a product at a certain price then that determines the price the product will sell for. In the translation industry there is clearly a demand for CAT tools at the current price level, if the demand was not there the prices wo
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Thomas,

What Heike and I are trying to point out is that supply and demand is a basic rule in a market economy (different from planned economy) and will affect any business/profession in that market. This has nothing to do with pressure. If there is a demand for a product at a certain price then that determines the price the product will sell for. In the translation industry there is clearly a demand for CAT tools at the current price level, if the demand was not there the prices would be reduced and/or the vendors would go out of business.

The supply and demand rule apply to all business which is also why you as a translator can charge more for specialized translations. Would you really want it any other way?

As Heike also explained very well is the differencies within the translation market, where a CAT tool is required for certain type of business but not for others.

It is your choice which part of the market you target. You run a business, you write your business plan and if you do not want to invest in certain tools you will have to adjust the plan to suit.

Asa
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Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 04:50
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Market economy II Feb 23, 2011

Åsa Campbell wrote:

What Heike and I are trying to point out is that supply and demand is a basic rule in a market economy (different from planned economy) and will affect any business/profession in that market. This has nothing to do with pressure. If there is a demand for a product at a certain price then that determines the price the product will sell for. In the translation industry there is clearly a demand for CAT tools at the current price level, if the demand was not there the prices would be reduced and/or the vendors would go out of business.



Yes, I agree, the rule of supply and demand in itself doesn't talk about pressures.

But my point is that there is constant pressures on translators to acquire expensive CAT tools. This is such a basic observation, that I am really a little bit surprised that I have to point it out.

In your descriptions (yours and Heike's), you yourselves make several statements that clearly indicate that pressure. (E.g. "if you want to be able to compete in that market area, where Trados or whatever other tool is in demand, you'd better invest in that tool", and several other statements.)



The supply and demand rule apply to all business which is also why you as a translator can charge more for specialized translations. Would you really want it any other way?



Right, if there is high demand but little supply, supplier X can increase the prices of his products and get away with it, and so on. Including translators.

That is a fact. It is not necessarily fair, nor is it necessarily the case that the buyers are happy with it. It is simply a fact, and it says nothing about how the different parties should relate to different possible pricing situations that appear in this context.

So, how should the suppliers relate to unreasonably high prices put under such conditions (say, buy a single or a few suppliers in face of high demand)?

That is the essential question we should discuss in this thread.

Should we just say: "We are not going to do anything, because economics text books are talking about rules of supply and demand?" No, I think we can do a whole better than that, at least as buyers of CAT tools.

And equally, I believe this is an option that is open to buyers of translations as well as. They can decide to accept the prices, to individually decide to buy or not to buy, or they can even decide to take collective action if they find prices unreasonably high. This is the right of everyone. Whether the suppliers are translators or anyone else.



As Heike also explained very well is the differencies within the translation market, where a CAT tool is required for certain type of business but not for others.

It is your choice which part of the market you target. You run a business, you write your business plan and if you do not want to invest in certain tools you will have to adjust the plan to suit.



Well, the truth of the matter is that we constantly have to adapt to the demands of the market, whether you like it or not. And that includes the purchase of CAT tools.

From what I understand from your previous post, this (need to adapt to the market) is the main reason you yourself bought TRADOS, wasn't it? Or did you just buy it because you like the way the TRADOS icon sits on your desktop screen, aesthetically speaking? Or because you just like to play with the menues, like playing Minesweeper? No, I am pretty sure you bought it as part of an adaptation to the market conditions in which you work and seek your income.

[Edited at 2011-02-23 00:51 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-02-23 00:52 GMT]


 

Åsa Campbell  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 19:20
Member
English to Swedish
No pressure Feb 23, 2011

Thomas,

I can hand on heart say that I have never been pressurised by any agency to use a certain CAT tool. When I use Trados it is because we have mutually agreed to use it, personally I find it very useful and that it without doubt speed up my work.

I have had occasions when I've been asked to use a certain tool (not always Trados) and if I have the tool I will use it, if not I ask if I can use a different tool and have always had a positive answer.

Well,
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Thomas,

I can hand on heart say that I have never been pressurised by any agency to use a certain CAT tool. When I use Trados it is because we have mutually agreed to use it, personally I find it very useful and that it without doubt speed up my work.

I have had occasions when I've been asked to use a certain tool (not always Trados) and if I have the tool I will use it, if not I ask if I can use a different tool and have always had a positive answer.

Well, time to get back to work, today with a free CAT tool

Asa
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Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 04:50
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
pressure and pressure Feb 23, 2011

Åsa Campbell wrote:

I can hand on heart say that I have never been pressurised by any agency to use a certain CAT tool.



Have you never encountered jobs from a regular client or potentially new client that you could not take on because you didn't have the required CAT tool?

This is happening constantly, and it is putting us in a situation of needing to acquire new CAT tools. Or if we don't, we will not be able to attain the results in our business that we need or want to attain.

This is what I mean by pressure. (To some, depending on each person's situation, it is a strongly felt pressure, to others it is perhaps just experienced as "just another thing I need to get", but the essence of it all is that the market pushes us all, or most of us, to purchase certain CAT tools.)

(I suspect some may have read a too strong meaning into the word "pressure". By "pressure", I do not mean "to pressurize", at least not in its usual sense.)


 

Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:50
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
They'll just do as they are already doing Feb 23, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:
Even more reason to make that strike, then. Will agencies and companies buy SDL if they become aware that translators are reluctant to use SDL's tools?


They will do what they are already doing: work with the translators who are able to fulfill their requirements.

If company X, which has already invested a considerable amount in Trados licenses, training and support, nees to find a new Italian freelance translator, in addition to other requirements (years of experience in the profession, ability and willingness to work with other translators and editors, specializations, etc.) they will specify that the translator must be able to work on bilingual Trados *.doc files, bilingual Trados *.ttx files and now also bilingual Trados Studio files.

Translators who do not meet the company's requirements will simply not be selected.

Let's not forget that most translation companies are not now looking to select their first CAT tool, so that they are looking to see if they prefer Tool A instead of Tool B: most companies have already heavily invested in one or more CAT tools, and changing to a different tool or a different set of tools - even cheaper or better ones, may involve a prohibitive cost for them.


 

Åsa Campbell  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 19:20
Member
English to Swedish
To Thomas Feb 23, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:

Åsa Campbell wrote:

I can hand on heart say that I have never been pressurised by any agency to use a certain CAT tool.



Have you never encountered jobs from a regular client or potentially new client that you could not take on because you didn't have the required CAT tool?



No


 

Manticore (X)  Identity Verified

Local time: 11:50
English to German
+ ...
It will sort itself out Feb 23, 2011

Dear Thomas

Well, one could boycott Trados but not strike against it.

I believe boycotting Trados is a waste of time. The main reason why many outsourcers insist on Trados is the TTX file. Interesting is, the latest version of Trados only offers limited support for TTX. Therefore Trados admits conclusively that proprietary files types won't survive forever. Very soon we'll have a standard file type that is handled by all CAT (it basically exists).

It is onl
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Dear Thomas

Well, one could boycott Trados but not strike against it.

I believe boycotting Trados is a waste of time. The main reason why many outsourcers insist on Trados is the TTX file. Interesting is, the latest version of Trados only offers limited support for TTX. Therefore Trados admits conclusively that proprietary files types won't survive forever. Very soon we'll have a standard file type that is handled by all CAT (it basically exists).

It is only a matter of time until the translator will be able to choose what CAT tool he or she is going to use. Then the decisive factors will be GUI, speed, shortcuts, ergonomics etc. (It's difficult to see why the footprint of Trados is ten times higher than memoQ's). As a result the prices will come down since there will be real competition.

There was a time when Trados probably had 80% or 90 % of the market. Today, the market share is probably in the region of 50%. And with Trados' high price structure they didn't block new entrants. I am sure they are doing some series Marginal Analysis right now with the result that prices will come down drastically (I believe that decision comes a few years too late) to keep or maybe increase their market share. With their high price structure Trados shot themselves in the foot in the long run and we know that the long run in our industry is quite short.

Kind regards

Roland Fischer


[Edited at 2011-02-23 09:23 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-02-23 09:25 GMT]
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Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 11:50
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Guesstimates Feb 23, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:
I.e. we're talking about approx. USD 90,000 per year for development alone, possibly adding a little for occasional assistance/consultancy from other developers on specialized matters. (That, of course, excludes other related business costs: web site development and maintenance, product documentation, marketing, sales, support etc.)


Are you really sure you know what you are talking about?

SDL claims that it took USD 100,000,000 to develop the latest version. Even if that number is a bit exaggerated, it means there must be more than one guy programming there...

Kilgray gave once an estimate of the effort they put into MemoQ, but I cannot find that reference now. Anyway, they were talking about millions of lines of code.

Besides, "excluding" the other costs makes the mental exercise pointless - they might easily exceed the development costs and, naturally, they need to be included in the price.


 

Salvador Scofano and Gry Midttun
Norway
Local time: 11:50
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
paradox Feb 23, 2011

While the average translation rates decrease (due to several reasons) some agencies demand newer and more expensive versions of CAT tools.

In addition some agencies that ask for very specific software (an versions) are not willing to pay more for it.

This is a paradox and I know what is the weakest link of the chain. All that may lead to continuous degradation of the profession.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:50
French to German
+ ...
Well, some are already there... Feb 23, 2011

Roland Fischer wrote:

(.../...)
I believe boycotting Trados is a waste of time. The main reason why many outsourcers insist on Trados is the TTX file. Interesting is, the latest version of Trados only offers limited support for TTX. Therefore Trados admits conclusively that proprietary files types won't survive forever. Very soon we'll have a standard file type that is handled by all CAT (it basically exists).

(.../...)

Well, some are already there... AND can also process the .ttx format at a fraction of the price one should pay for a "major CAT tool". The real problem AFAIAC is the provision of bilingual .ttx files. But then again, there are remedies!


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:50
Member (2004)
English to Italian
CAT Tools are not expensive... Feb 23, 2011

they are actually quite cheap for the kind of increased return you can get. Trados is not expensive to me or any other "expensive" CAT Tool, for that matter. Why would I strike against a tool which is helping me increase my profits is a mystery to me.

 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:50
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Focus Feb 23, 2011

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

they are actually quite cheap for the kind of increased return you can get. Trados is not expensive to me or any other "expensive" CAT Tool, for that matter. Why would I strike against a tool which is helping me increase my profits is a mystery to me.


Let's once again remind you that's not the same for everyone.

You say Trados is not expensive to you - but that's not the case for everyone else. Like I said, you must consider the local economy and currency factor, as well as someone's personal finances.

Thomas is from Argentina so he probably has the same outlook as me.

Like I said before, Trados does not apply discounts for developing nations so it's price can be 9x higher than other tools. For translators here, it can be a very costly tool, one month's work, three month's rent or even the price of a cheap car. Try to remember there's no threshold, tax exemption or deduction and you will see why we prefer cheaper tools. If you consider this is being enforced on students who are in trouble trying to pay back their loans and that they can do the same with much cheaper tools you'll see where we're coming from.

Also, in this reality it would have no return, well, not for someone who doesn't work in technical areas. Around here I've seen people being asked to buy tools and lower their prices and offer discounts - they gain nothing out of it except for the possibility to continue working, but for less.

Agencies are often turning into vendors for commission and not being AT ALL transparent about the fact they are suggesting this specific tool for their own profit (not only Trados) - which is not an acceptable marketing practice in most places. They lead people to believe they are simply offering you a discount because they have special conditions, not because they're actually selling it for profit. Other times they will deceive unemployed people who aren't translators telling them they'll make a lot of money by purchasing this tool.

I am surprised this has been ignored.

If I can do my work with a cheaper tool or if I prefer another one, why should I have to get this specific one?

Maybe the tools are also driving the rates down. Some people I know (end-clients) said they received people who represent certain CAT Tools in their offices, and just basically saying: if you make sure you translator provider uses this tool you can get much, much cheaper translations.

Some tools are designed to make OUR lives easier, others may have other goals as well.


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:50
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Thank you Feb 23, 2011

Salvador Scofano and Gry Midttun wrote:

While the average translation rates decrease (due to several reasons) some agencies demand newer and more expensive versions of CAT tools.

In addition some agencies that ask for very specific software (an versions) are not willing to pay more for it.

This is a paradox and I know what is the weakest link of the chain. All that may lead to continuous degradation of the profession.



For putting it so clearly.

People often forget the 'free market' is regulated too. Certain practices are not acceptable, there are also rules about transparency and advertising.

The fact is we're spending more to make less and maximize the middleman's profit as the need for translations increase in the global world.

Certain tools are aware of currency/economy differences and apply discounts, others charge a price that may seem reasonable if you're in Europe, for example, but in other places of the world would mean giving up getting a new computer, taking time off, doing a new course.

I've seen this many times: an agency requests a professional translator to work on a project and send the TMs, from then on the company's intern is the one dealing with the rest of it and they only pay a proofreader.


 

Kay Barbara
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:50
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
No discount? Feb 23, 2011

Paula Borges wrote:

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

they are actually quite cheap for the kind of increased return you can get. Trados is not expensive to me or any other "expensive" CAT Tool, for that matter. Why would I strike against a tool which is helping me increase my profits is a mystery to me.


Let's once again remind you that's not the same for everyone.

You say Trados is not expensive to you - but that's not the case for everyone else. Like I said, you must consider the local economy and currency factor, as well as someone's personal finances.

Thomas is from Argentina so he probably has the same outlook as me.

Like I said before, Trados does not apply discounts for developing nations so it's price can be 9x higher than other tools. For translators here, it can be a very costly tool, one month's work, three month's rent or even the price of a cheap car. Try to remember there's no threshold, tax exemption or deduction and you will see why we prefer cheaper tools. If you consider this is being enforced on students who are in trouble trying to pay back their loans and that they can do the same with much cheaper tools you'll see where we're coming from.

Also, in this reality it would have no return, well, not for someone who doesn't work in technical areas. Around here I've seen people being asked to buy tools and lower their prices and offer discounts - they gain nothing out of it except for the possibility to continue working, but for less.

Agencies are often turning into vendors for commission and not being AT ALL transparent about the fact they are suggesting this specific tool for their own profit (not only Trados) - which is not an acceptable marketing practice in most places. They lead people to believe they are simply offering you a discount because they have special conditions, not because they're actually selling it for profit. Other times they will deceive unemployed people who aren't translators telling them they'll make a lot of money by purchasing this tool.

I am surprised this has been ignored.

If I can do my work with a cheaper tool or if I prefer another one, why should I have to get this specific one?

Maybe the tools are also driving the rates down. Some people I know (end-clients) said they received people who represent certain CAT Tools in their offices, and just basically saying: if you make sure you translator provider uses this tool you can get much, much cheaper translations.

Some tools are designed to make OUR lives easier, others may have other goals as well.





Out of curiosity I just checked on SDL's website. When I want to buy SDL Trados Studio and choose UK as my location, the price is GBP660, for Poland it is GBP678 and for Brazil it is GBP582. So SDL does apply a discount/different pricing according to your location. Whether this is a "reasonable"(!) price for John Doe I cannot say.

Paula, you are going on about agencies selling CAT tools for commission and I won't deny that they exist. But are you saying that this is the rule rather than the exception? Of course there are scammers and crooks (as in any industry) but there is a good number of decent agencies out there too. This picture that is painted here about agency seems to have a very negative bias.

Moreover, no one is obliged to use those CAT tools and if translators use them, it is their choice to grant customers any discounts. If someone tries to "enforce" discounts, I decline. This has worked nicely for me so far.

You go on to say that for some people there would be no return if someone's working outside technical areas. While this is another topic altogether, I do think that there can be benefits outside technical areas (at least this is what I experience in my specialty field)

You said that maybe CAT tools are also driving rates down? I beg to differ, after all it is translators who accept rock bottom rates.

Paula Borges wrote:
The fact is we're spending more to make less and maximize the middleman's profit as the need for translations increase in the global world.


I don't know who you are referring to with "we". If "they" are really doing that, they should stop it immediately... they should maximize their profit instead.

I do believe that the need for translations increases in this day and age, so everyone can try to stand out above competitors by means of qualification/specialization. Then you don't have to compete primarily on price.


 

Adrian Grant  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:50
Portuguese to English
+ ...
The Internationale. Feb 23, 2011

For those criticising Thomas on the grounds of free market economics, I would just like to point out that strikes, boycotts against particular companies/products, workers co-operatives, unions etc are just as much part of free market economies as are supply and demand.

At least they are in modern non-tyrannical societies.

[Edited at 2011-02-23 17:32 GMT]


 
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