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Total cost of ownership of mainstream CAT tools for freelancers over 6 years

Translation tools sold to freelancers are often discounted, for instance via Translator group buying (TGB) deals at ProZ.com. However, the initial price of a tool may only represent a small part of the total price translators will have to pay over the years, when taking into account items such as support and maintenance (upgrades).

This video attempts to calculate the total cost of ownership of four mainstream tools (SDL Trados Studio, memoQ translator pro, Wordfast Studio, Déjà Vu X2 Professional) over a  period of six years. The initial prices used in the calculation are the discounted prices available for these tools at the end of September 2012.

As the video is quite long (13 minutes), you can jump directly to the section(s) you are interested in via the following links:
SDL Trados Studio (starts at 00:43)
memoQ translator pro (starts at 05:20)
Wordfast Studio (starts at 07:30)
Déjà Vu X2 Professional (starts at 09:22)
Summary (starts at 11:40)

Related videos:
The price of CAT tools for freelance translators in 2012, duration: 09:03, published: 30-Jan-2012
The price of mainstream CAT tools (part 2), duration: 04:22, published: 6-Apr-2012

Hardware and software used to produce the hand-written bits:
Apple iPad 2
Noteshelf app for iPad by Ranki
Wacom Bamboo Stylus
AirServer app for Mac

9 comments to Total cost of ownership of mainstream CAT tools for freelancers over 6 years

  • Nima

    Bonjour Dominique,

    very nice and creative presentation. I might have to buy myself a Bamboo Stylus now. 🙂

    Best regards,

    • Dominique

      Hi Nima,
      Thanks! If you already have an iPad and a Mac, then investing in a Bamboo Stylus makes sense (it costs about 30 euros). You could possibly do something similar with an Android tablet and a PC, but it’s probably more complicated. With the iPad/Mac solution, you stream the screen of your iPad wirelessly to your Mac via AirPlay and the AirServer app, and you record it on the Mac with ScreenFlow. It sounds a bit complicated, but works very well in practice.
      PS: congrats for your new job with Lucy Software!

  • Selcuk Akyuz

    It seems that Atril releases a new version every 6 years (in 1999, 2004 and 2011) so possibly the new version will be released in 2017. In that case its cost is only EUR 250, not EUR 648.

    • Dominique

      Hi Selcuk,
      Having paid upgrades every six years could be justified when the initial price was 990 euros. Now that it is 250 euros in practice, and that support continues to be free, I fail to see how the next paid upgrade could six years from the release of DVX2. I’m ready to bet there will be a paid upgrade to DVX3 in less than two years (= three years from the release of DVX2).
      When Kilgray sells 150 licenses in a single TGB deal, such as now, they will most likely derive a revenue of 124 x 120 = 14.880 euros next year from these users (assuming 80% of their users pay the annual maintenance fee to stay current, which is quite realistic based on what I see around me). When Atril sells xx licenses at 250 euros now, they will get nothing from these users next year.
      A company needs steady revenues in order to stay in business and develop. Atril is not getting these revenues from their freelancer users. Hopefully, they have lots of more lucrative corporate users.

  • Hi Dominique, my understanding is that Kilgray offer only 4-hrs of technical support within the 20%, it’s €50/hr after that, compared to SDL which is unlimited. How would you build this in? We often have customers asking lots of non bug related questions so they get good value from this at no additional cost.

    • Dominique

      Hi Paul,
      Yes, good question! I’ve always wondered how Kilgray counts tech support consumed by each user. OTOH, I consume very little tech support. I agree that for heavy consumers, the “all-you-can-eat” approach of SDL can be more advantageous.

  • SafeTex


    When I bought WordFast Pro recently on the proz site


    there was absolutely nothing about paying 60 Euros a year for support and half the retail price after 3 years

    There is just a form to fill on and a fixed price to pay.

    As for help, I get it in the Yahoo groups free of charge. When you talk of 60 Euros for support, what support do you mean?



    • Dominique

      Sorry to hear about this. As I explained on the Wordfast Pro list, ProZ.com should have displayed the license agreement, as is the case on Wordfast’s own webstore.
      The yearly fee of 60 euros is for support available directly from Wordfast. Since your license is less than one year old, you have access to it: just log in to your account at wordfast.net and select ‘Contact the hotline’ to place a query. For more information about Wordfast’s policy on support, please see http://www.wordfast.net/?kb=181-32
      Best regards,

  • Magali

    Great to have all these numbers. Thanks Dominique. Never tried Déjà Vu nor Trados. I’ve sort of moved recently from WF to MQ to have just one easy CAT Tool very userfriendly and Powerful, with an easy to read screen with lots of information on it though. I like to have an efficient “hotline” too, and find MQ is worth its yearly 120€ renewal fee for both updates and support.
    So a little bit more expensive, but saving so much of our precious time… eventhough as in all CAT Tools, I came across some
    bugs or things I did not quite understand.

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