Localizing Mobile Content? Focus on These Key Areas First

If you’re not thinking about mobile localization as part of your app’s marketing strategy, it may be time to start. With more mobile devices in the world than people, per GSMA Intelligence, and 80 percent of web connections slated to take place via mobile devices, you can’t afford to ignore mobile app marketing.

Translate Your App into English

Distimo’s study provides some great insight into what to consider when pursuing app localization. Having examined the top Apple App Store downloads in 12 of the world’s largest markets—including the United States—a few things are clear. Firstly, if your business and app come from a non-English speaking country, English is the most important language into which you can translate your app.

More than 90 percent of the apps in the top 200 support English, and this applies to both free and revenue-generating mobile apps. If your product is primarily for the iPhone, supporting English is all the more important.

Don’t Ignore the Asian Market

There is a growing trend for iPhone apps in particular (but also iPad apps) to support other languages. For apps, as for business, Asian languages have a large part to play. Although in most markets, English apps generate the biggest share of app revenue, Asian markets (Japan, South Korea, and China) see native language apps earning the biggest share.

The fact is mobile device users in these markets are more likely to pay for apps that support the language they speak. In other words, for app developers, publishing apps in users’ native language has a large impact on revenue.

Localization Boosts App Revenue

App localization is an important trend, according to Distimo’s research. Some of the most popular apps in the world, such as WhatsApp and Twitter, are available in multiple languages.

There are regional variations of which language is best for app localization, though, and this changes depending on whether the apps are free or for purchase. When an app is free, people are reportedly less inclined to worry about having it available in their native language, leaving English with a stable share of free downloads across different app stores.

In most countries, apps supporting local languages are the second-largest download contributor by volume, but there are some exceptions. In Brazil, for example, Spanish is second in localized app downloads over Portuguese, while in Canada, French takes second for free downloads only. Even more interesting, German is in the second place for revenue-generating mobile apps in the same country.

Mobile Localization Boosts iPhone Download Volumes

Distimo’s study measured downloads during a given week in August 2012 when certain popular apps introduced a native language app. According to findings, iPhone download volumes increased by more than 128 percent and revenue increased by around 26 percent. Total downloads were highest in China and Japan, and revenue was highest in China and South Korea. However, there was little impact when the same was done on the iPad.

Above all, publishers focused on localizing mobile content should pay attention to the markets and platforms in which they plan to release an app. If they are targeting Asian markets, this research makes a very strong case for app localization with respect to both free and paid downloads. If the app is free, targeting the language that’s second-most popular for downloads—whether or not it’s native to the country—is an excellent strategy.

Image source: BigStock




About Sharon Hurley Hall

Self-confessed word nerd Sharon Hurley Hall has the perfect job - as a professional writer and blogger. In the last couple of decades she has worked as a journalist, a college professor (teaching journalism, of course), an editor and a ghostwriter. She finds language fascinating and, in addition to English, speaks French, Spanish and a smattering of German.