This article is part of our Localization guide – check it out for a detailed blueprint on this complex process.
Developers are flooding the market with mobile apps, some of which are very useful while others become popular only for a short time, but since most are available globally, mobile app localization is necessary for users who speak other languages to enjoy the mobile apps.
Today, almost everyone owns a cell phone and it is nearly impossible to find a smartphone owner who does not use at least a mobile app or two. For many, using a mobile app is part of their daily routine, whether it is for checking emails, watching videos or playing mobile games.
Various types of mobile apps are available. Some are built-in on mobile phones and tablets while others are available for free or for a fee from online stores such as Google Play, Amazon or Apple Store. Other apps are proprietary and available from various companies for specific use.
Here are some of the most popular types of mobile apps available in the market.
- Lifestyle Apps. By definition, these are apps that define your lifestyle. These include fitness, food, travel, music and dating. Examples include Uber, Trip Advisor and Spotify.
- Social Media Mobile Apps. They are the most popular apps among users, which are almost ubiquitous, like Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram.
- Travel Navigation Apps. They are very popular. They help the users by providing directions, route planning, traffic analysis, and a lot more. Two prominent examples are Google Maps and Waze.
- Utility Mobile Apps. They are usually pre-installed on many portable communication devices, including calculators, reminders, calendar, flashlight and weather. They are typically frequently used but only for a short time.
- Entertainment and Game Mobile Apps. They are huge and generally competitive. Mobile games are substantial revenue earners, and some groups even hold mobile game tournaments worldwide.
- Productivity Mobile Apps. They are also very popular. They’re like an extension of a person’s work environment, wherein some tasks are accomplished while on the road. Thus, many office workers and executives install productivity apps such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Wallet/Pay, Wunderlist and Evernote.
- Information/News Outlet Mobile Apps. They are important to many people who want to have information right readily available. Most of the information is easy to navigate and understand. Some of these include Smartnews, Buzzfeed, Feedly, Google News and Weather, Linkedin Pulse, Reddit and Flipboard.
Most of these mobile apps are localized, while there are specific apps that are more popular in non-English speaking countries, particularly in the social media category. Examples include WeChat, Sina Weibo and Renren that are very popular in China. QZone and QQ are also making waves among Chinese social media users. In Japan, Line is one of the most popular. South Korea has KakaoTalk, while VKontakte (VK) is now one of the largest social networking sites in Europe. Taringa! targets the social media users in Latin America and Tuenti is an alternative to Facebook, which is accessible to Spanish speakers.
The investment in mobile app development is quite small, but it can pay huge dividends when it becomes popular. One of the key factors that keep developers inspired to create mobile apps is the potential global reach of the app, which can be quite immediate. With platforms such as Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, mobile entrepreneurs and app developers are able to access a large number of users across the globe. However, one thing that you cannot ignore is the language barrier.
Mobile app localization boosts the potential for success
The language barrier is one of the issues that plague many sectors and industries. In the mobile apps industry, there is no guarantee that each app created will be successful in the market. Although it is essential that app developers should keep in mind that they need mobile app localization to capture international audiences, there are still a few key aspects that they must consider.
Millions of people around the world download mobile apps every day. Interestingly, users download and install a variety of apps but also uninstall them frequently because they do not use them.
Data from Statista shows that for the year 2017 and projections for years 2018 and 2020, the mobile downloads worldwide are as follows:
- 2017 – 178.1 billion
- 2018 – 205. 4 billion
- 2020 – 258.2 billion
On the other hand, Comscore has a list of the 10 most popular apps by penetration on iOS and Android platforms. The list covers people 18 years and older in 2017.
- Facebook – 81%
- YouTube – 71%
- FB Messenger – 68%
- Google Search – 61%
- Google Maps – 57%
- Instagram – 50%
- Snapchat – 50%
- Google Play – 47%
- Gmail – 44%
- Pandora – 41%
TechCrunch released a report of the first quarter of 2017 detailing the average daily use of mobile apps in different countries.
- Brazil – nearly 12 apps
- India – about 11
- China – about 11 (on iOS only)
- United States – more than 10
- Japan – more than 10
- UK – more than 10
- Germany – 10
- Mexico – 10
- South Korea – nearly 10
- France – 9
What you should learn from the statistics above is that if you are a mobile app developer and you intend to make it available globally, your first consideration is an app translation strategy. You have to be mindful of the fact that a huge number of potential users of your app will not be speaking English.
According to The Mobile Economy 2018 report by GSMA.com, there are 5.0 billion unique mobile subscribers in 2017 while 3.3 billion use mobile Internet for the same year. With this overwhelming statistics, a developer should not overlook that fact that language plays a significant role in the success of a mobile app in the global arena. English speakers are not likely to download an app that is in a foreign language. Conversely, a non-English speaker will not use a mobile app available in English only.
It is said that about 72% of potential mobile app users do not speak English, it is critical that the mobile app developer must prepare for mobile app localization during the planning stage of the mobile app creation.
It is natural for developers and users to use their native language for their app but since most of the apps are intended for international consumption, they must be localized. Now the question is what languages should a developer target to maximize the potential revenue?
Top languages for mobile app localization
If you are planning to monetize your mobile app, the top mobile app localization languages, according to available data from 2015 are the following:
- Brazilian Portuguese
This means that these markets are some of the richest sources of revenues for mobile apps because the speakers of these languages often pay for the mobile apps they download.
Importance of mobile apps
Using at least one or two mobile apps today is normal. There is no escaping the usefulness of mobile phones and tablets in the lives of most people, from students to business executives. The features of a smartphone today turn the gadget that previously is only used for calling and messaging into an extension of someone’s life and work.
Mobile apps are now used for shopping, cooking, education, business, communication, banking and entertainment. Almost every facet of a person’s everyday life has a corresponding mobile app. Mobile apps make life easier for more people, allowing them to perform tasks even while they are away from their desks or traveling to other countries.
Importance of mobile app localization
Because of the increasing importance of mobile apps, it is also important to have them localized. Mobile app localization enables these apps to fit the needs of people who speak other languages. Localization means changing the currencies, units, calendars into the correct formats.
Mobile apps have become tools for marketing, and localization ensures that the right products come up during searches of potential customers. The products’ information should be in a language they can understand.
Choosing your professional language service provider
It is essential to hire the services of a professional language services provider, as mobile app localization is more than basic translation. It requires managing all the components of the app, including its content, backend database, images, audio, marketing and branding.
By doing mobile app localization you’ll be able to equally compete in the international market and provide your target audience with a positive user experience.
Mobile app localization is the top priority not only due to the high demand for more apps but also because localization will enable the apps to be more accessible and useful to a wider audience. In planning to develop a mobile app, it is better to collaborate with a professional language services provider from the start. Day Translations, Inc. can help. Our linguists who are experts in technology and mobile apps can give you advice and tips to prepare your mobile app for localization. We work with more than 100 languages so you can hit your target markets efficiently. Give us a call at 1-800-969-6853 or send us an email at Contact us any time at your convenience. We are open 24/7 every day of the year to help you with your translation and localization needs wherever you are located.
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