Google should acquire PakTranslations.com – its a brilliant semantic urdu translation service

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Finally! After so many rehashed, discouraging and low-key startup pitches I’ve heard in recent months, finally I see something delightfully innovative and something that has huge potential.

Three people out of Karachi have created PakTranslations.com – the first machine-based Urdu Translation service on the web.

Think about this for a second – this is a zero-install urdu translator for website owners. E.g. From today We can offer a full Urdu version of Green & White here.

What is striking about this service is that its actually very good — it doesn’t just do word-for-word translations it seems, because it seems to pick up the semantics of the word very accurately. Try it with words like “expats” and “leapfrogging”. It seems to figure out grammar and sentence structure very pleasantly as well.

What’s to like about this service? Well whats not to like? Lets drill down the product and business model so that I can explain why Google must acquire this company today.

The Product and Strategy

As I mentioned, the technology is very nice, fairly accurate (for beta) and can only improve from here.

The product and strategy seem to be spot on well, and shows an aggressive push for capturing and owning this space. They’re giving away a lot of free services that would be immediately useful for content and website creators.

The free text and free website translation services mean that I can simply provide a link from my site make my site more accessible to local readership.

But it helps drive massive amounts of traffic back to the paktranslation services page, which even now has sponsors and shows ads on the page.

In addition to this, they have paid consulting services to help you get started with your own permanent urdu website from today.

The Story
I really like their startup story – The project is the brainchild of one person Zeeshan Ahmed, who left his job and started building his own raft two years ago. He didn’t stand in the sidelines trying to do petty PHP projects to get by thinking he was doing well as an entrepreneur, he started out to build a brilliant product, and he has.

From what I hear, Zeeshan has been involved with this fulltime, tirelessly for the past three years despite enormous social pressures from family and friends – and the three of them should be proud of their choice of persistence.

The Business Proposition

Pakistan is the 6th most populous nation in the world, and the world cannot deny the massive potential that lies within the rural and lower-income segments of society.

But even if they had access to the internet (and they will with many of the activities ISPs and Telecos and also researchers are participating in) language presents a massive wall to a significant set of our population.

Imagine for a second what would happen if you could immediately provide a low-income person access to Wikipedia in Urdu — the world’s knowledge — in Urdu.If you provided them access to learn and participate in a linked, knowledge economy to further their own profession.

Imagine for a second the types of economic effects something like this can have – that a small PCO in every street corner could have a cheap PC through which low-income people could have access to special job boards for jobs for cooks and janitors and others.

We’re not talking about servicing just the local industry, or about Google being able to offer “translate this to urdu” in their search results.

The question instead is what is the value of opening the floodgates of information on the internet to the 68Million potential internet users that ISPs will be targeting this year and the next?

What is the value of grass-root net enabled economies that rely on micro-transactions (Rs.10-20) between any of those 68M people and PCO owners to have access to that internet?

Even if Google doesn’t buy them, some local ISP should work with these guys to distribute these systems to a chain of PCOs across the country. Once you give 68M people access, the local consumer web application market can begin to skyrocket as well, especailly with Amaana as a payment backbone.

Good job Zeeshan and the rest of you – its projects like yours that make us feel Green all over, and not with envy.

Other interesting work in this space includes the Karachi OS and the CRULP Project at FAST Lahore

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17 Comments

  • I had no idea that “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” could translate as a very interesting headline for my blog NEXT>.

    Yet this start-up is such a heart-warmer. GOod lcuk to Zeeshan on the many levels that this post mentions: the project, the entrepreneurship, and of course, the Big G.

  • i am speechless.

    the above can best and only be described as a giant leap of faith.

    thank you osama and everyone else for the support and appreciation.

  • Zeeshan,
    Thank you for your great service i have been trying to find an Urdu translation for my site which is aimed at the rural communities..
    It means we have now got the four elements
    we need to succeed ..cell phones (..they throw them away by the thousands in the Uk )
    ..free internet
    ..free eco enterprise education..
    ..translation in urdu

    It just needs putting together..
    will let you know how the launch goes.
    Thank you again….ian

  • Go Zeeshan!

    Zeeshan has been at it for over an year now, we brainstormed in his room one fateful night about the idea and how it would work and how much money would be needed. If he sees me again, he’ll probably kill me for keeping his hopes up :)

  • My site offers the same Google service but with the added advantage that you can add free machine translation to your own website with a bit of HTML code.
    You can dowload it here http://www.appliedlanguage.com/trans/free_quick.aspx

  • Surendran,

    Your website doesn’t currently offers translations to Urdu, does it?

  • Hi Spark,

    You are correct. In this case, we do have a translator to translate into “Urdu” language manually. :)

  • LOL!! they offer it for free… beat that 😛

  • thank you for your interest in paktranslations.com project.

    the first production realease of paktranslations.com would launch within 2 weeks. new features include:
    – over 75% accuracy
    – faster speed
    – several new translation options
    – online proof reading mode so people and businesses can fine tune the technology according to their needs

    work on sindhi is already underway. in two months, people would also be able to surf the net in sindhi. pushto would be next.

    the translations would always be free of charge and continuously evolving.

    i thank you all for your support.

  • Good work Zeeshan. I hope you have a big launch :)

  • salam to all ;
    Its a great work in deed – my brother has full command on Arabic ,Persian and english languages too he has done multimedia graphics diploma from ARENA – he is seeking for job -i think he can easily translate bcz he has translated arabic and Persian books in urdu -can heb get chance for it-

  • muhammad rizwan

    thank you for urdu language translation .it could help to solve english language

  • Dear sir,
    the web paktranslations.com cannot open i try 5day ago the site open and working properly but after the wab site given message commingsoon what happand
    this web site is very billient and usefull please remove any fault thanks
    your t a khan

  • It is just a bullshit software. If Urdu could be translated by machine, then there was no need of hundreds of translators working in news media and other places. The fact is that machine can’t produce even a 10 percent accurate text. Try to translate any long sentence and you will find it.

    I am laughing at the mentality. Your pathetic site is not equivalent to flickr.com, youtube.com or any other international website for which google will waste money. But anyway, good day dreaming!

  • Salman, thats .. well.. a pretty funny argument!

    I mean… YES if this site worked there wont be any need for hundreds of translators… and thats the value it can provide.

  • sajjad haider

    we are proud of zesh but don’t sell it. remember google guys could too could have sold google to a bigger fish

  • thanks for it. i have got more knowledge and i hope you will provide more about it.

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