Dropbox learns Dutch, Swedish, Danish and Thai in international expansion

The company also hopes these new language interfaces will give a boost to Dropbox for Business

Dropbox launched a Dutch version

Dropbox launched a Dutch version

Dropbox launched Dutch, Swedish, Danish and Thai versions of its application and clients, as the company seeks to grow the international usage of its cloud storage and file sharing service.

The Dropbox service, now available in 19 languages and 200 countries, has about 70 percent of its 300 million users outside of the U.S., said Johann Butting, Dropbox's head of EMEA.

The company hopes these new versions will not only help the service grow its usage among consumers abroad but also help boost its Dropbox for Business service that came out of beta in November.

Dropbox is used in over 4 million businesses, although most of that use is still through free personal accounts, Butting said. Dropbox's enterprise version offers a variety of IT administration features to give companies more control over their own data.

For example, people can have both a personal account and a separate business account provisioned by their employer, and to be logged into both at the same time on the devices they use. This helps to keep work and private files separate and allows administrators, for instance, to ban access to the work folder when somebody leaves the company, Butting said.

Dropbox also chose to make its service available in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden because penetration of Internet users is relatively high there.

In 2012, 94 percent of Swedes were using the Internet, one percent more than in the Netherlands and Denmark, according to figures from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Sweden and Denmark also rank high in wireless broadband use: both have a penetration of over 100 percent while the Netherlands had a penetration of over 60 percent, according to OECD figures released in January.

In comparison with the European countries, Thai Internet adoption is low, reaching 26.5 percent in 2012, but that level of usage is rising and still justifies having a Thai version of the service, he said.

In the Netherlands, the company noticed that Dutch users of Dropbox for Business who call the technical support line usually start by asking the support person if they speak their language, according to Butting. A Dutch version and Dutch support staff should ease these language difficulties, he said.

However, not every company that uses Dropbox for Business in the Netherlands is going to switch to the Dutch version.

That's the case of Unitid, a Dutch company that designs digital interfaces and has been using Dropbox for six years and recently started using Dropbox for Business.

"Dropbox regularly introduces great new features, but we will not make much use of the Dutch version," said Matthijs Collard, an interaction designer at Unitid.

The English version is understandable and easier to use with non-Dutch employees and international clients, he said. However, Collard acknowledged there would probably be many other companies and individuals who would like a Dutch version of Dropbox.

Other language versions of Dropbox are likely to follow. The company is still looking for an "internationalization engineer" who will help to make sure that every person, regardless of language or location, receives a first-class experience when using Dropbox, according to a job posting on its website that also said Dropbox' internationalization process is "just getting started."

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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