It's not that so many new players entered this market last year, but the use of web-based translation environment tools has skyrocketed. In a recent survey by the Italian Way2Global in cooperation with translators' associations and universities (I will link to the survey once it's public), more than half of its respondents say they use web-based tools "often." I bet even a year ago that number would have been significantly lower, let alone three or five years ago.
It's important to note that there are not only positive aspects to web-based translation environment tools. There are also many different kinds of such tools. Let's start with the latter.
First are the web-based translation environment tools made to be only that, with no (or essentially no) desktop component. These include tools like Wordbee, XTM Cloud, Wordfast Anywhere, Memsource (which does have a desktop component that mimics the web-based interface), Smartcat, MateCat, Lilt, Transifex, Crowdin, Easyling, MotionPoint, Smartling, Lingotek, and even Google Translator Toolkit, as well as a number of tools owned and operated by language service providers. Some of the providers of these tools have seen the writing on the wall (or: in the cloud) for quite a while (Lingotek since 2006 and Google Translator Toolkit since 2009). While some of these providers offer options to use a private server for data storage and transfer, most of them use cloud-based servers with private partitions to separate the user's data from that of their teams (though in some cases the data can be used across users for analytical and some cross-training purposes).
A whole different kind of web-based tool are primarily desktop-based with an alternative web-based interface, including Trados, memoQ, and Across. In each case, the projected use case scenario is different. Trados, for example, seems to view their web-based tool, which is dramatically simplified in comparison to their desktop tool, more in terms of post-editing and less as a high-powered translation environment (in relation to the desktop tool). Across, on the other hand, has achieved complete feature parity between their desktop and web-based environments, while memoQ's web-based tool at least tries to play catch-up with the desktop-based older sister.
Why is this shift toward a web-based environment overall positive? For a number of reasons. First, these tools' design criteria typically differs from the desktop-based tools by being more streamlined and less overloaded with features. Clearly, people who see themselves as "power users" might not like that, but for them the desktop tools are still available. For the majority of translators, it's helpful to have a translation environment that allows them to be productive after just one or two hours of use.
Second, I think it's somewhat unrealistic to assume that the world of translation will be spared from a move to cloud-based environments. This simply matches an already existing reality.
And lastly, I'm delighted that this whole boring discussion about operating systems and devices has finally come to a close since web-based tools can clearly be used across the board.
— Jost Zetzsche, 295th Tool Box Journal