Time to Translate Mobile Apps to English

Time to Translate Mobile Apps to English

chinese man with tabletAll app developers in China, listen up. Google has announced merchant support for Chinese developers on Google Play for 130 countries. A huge international market, hard to access until now, has opened up for app makers in China – provided you translate mobile apps to English.

Why is this development so important to Chinese app makers?

China publishes an astronomical number of mobile apps, 730,000 in 2012, which makes it a pretty congested market. And despite China being the world’s biggest smartphone market, it’s not the most lucrative one – the best way to monetize your app has been to enter the U.S. and other European markets.

At a time when Chinese companies are aggressively going global, app makers could only drool at the thought of international market penetration with no way of making money from them. Until now.

What Was the Holdup with Google App Store in China?

As a result of Google’s fall out with the Chinese government in 2010, access to many of Google’s products became spotty at best. Chinese developers couldn’t host their paid apps on Google’s app store, which is the biggest for Android. Instead, they had to publish on an array of stores created by internet providers and handset makers in China, who have now created a robust mobile ecosystem.

Just as Facebook and Twitter have warmed up to Chinese companies wanting to advertise on their platforms, Google, too, doesn’t want to lose out anymore. The benefits to Google from this decision are obvious, but they are also very significant for the Chinese app developer.

Why is English Translation So Important?

Localized mobile apps show a 128% more chance of being downloaded, according to a Distimo report. In the case of Chinese app developers, who are most likely to publish in their native language, translation is an imperative. Also, English is the first language in some of the new markets which these developers will be targetting.

Even where it isn’t, English can get your foot in the door. Also, translation from Chinese directly to, say, Danish could prove difficult because the required language resources may or may not be easily and quickly available. English can function as the pivot language, enabling further translations.

Don’t Neglect Localization

Some Chinese app developers may be very new to translation and localization, as they have been used to operating only in the home market. They should note that it’s not enough to just translate: localization is as important. Seemingly small details like date, time, currency, phone number, and address formats need to be factored in. The same goes for cultural references.

Lastly, when your need to translate website content or apps to English is urgent, it’s important to pick the right translation management system, which will enable automatic content collection, in-context translation, and other features that make it a speedy and hassle-free process.


About Vijayalaxmi Hegde

Vijayalaxmi is a member of the marketing team at Smartling. Prior to joining Smartling, she led the language services market sizing project at industry research firm, Common Sense Advisory. She is also a trained journalist and has written for publications in India (where she lives) as well as abroad. She is a plain language and tech enthusiast and speaks Kannada, English, Hindi, and Bengali – listed in the order she learned them.


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