Seeking Quick ROI? There’s a Localized App for That

Localizing iPhone application text resulted in significantly more downloads – 128% more per country, in fact.


What’s the return on investment (ROI) for localizing an app? A study, “The Impact of App Translations” from Distimo showed that localizing iPhone application text resulted in significantly more downloads – 128% more per country, in fact. Not only that, but companies saw a 26% increase in revenue for each country added. What’s more, these results were achieved within just one week of offering a localized app.

The “localization effect” on app downloads is striking. App developer David Janner ran an experiment with localization. He found that 76% of the total app traffic came from English-speaking countries prior to localization. And after? English-speaking users made up only 10% of the total, while the total volume leaped from 3,000 downloads per month prior to localization to 23,000 downloads per month post-localization – or 767% more downloads.

These findings are not isolated cases by any means.

The Distimo study found that translation is more critical for some markets than others. In countries like China, Japan, and South Korea, customers were significantly more likely to pay for iPhone apps available in their native languages.

Echoing these findings, a report from ABI Research showed that localization was critical for companies seeking to reach China’s mobile app market, in which more than 90% of apps are available in Chinese.

With such impressive results, it’s no surprise that localization is becoming more mainstream in the developer world. Clear localization guidelines are now available for Android and iOS.

What’s most exciting about app localization? ROI is notoriously difficult to prove for many other areas of localization. Companies that release software, for example, often have a difficult time determining whether increased sales in a given market can be directly linked to localization, or whether other factors might actually be at play.

At Smartling, we see similar results from the many clients who use our technology to localize their mobile apps and websites. Once they see success with one language, they keep adding more.

The ROI lesson is clear – the more languages you add, the more customers you can reach.