With Google Play available in 120 markets, Apple’s App Store in 136 countries and Windows Phone marketplace eventually available in 180 territories, apps are undoubtedly a global concern.
This means that support for local languages is an increasingly important feature, according to the latest report from apps analytics firm Distimo. Promotional campaigns, in-app purchases and specific news content are all used to target specific markets.
Distimo analysed the impact of introducing local language versions of apps in the 12 largest countries in terms of downloads and revenue: the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, Korea, China, Brazil and Australia.
English challenged by local languages
English is currently the leading language overall, with apps supporting the language accounting for more than 90 percent of free downloads and revenue for the top 200 iPhone and iPad titles across all markets.
However, the importance of apps supporting local languages is growing, with the proportion of free downloads and revenue for these products increasing.
China is the only market where English does not dominate the top 200 most downloaded free apps, with 79 percent of free downloads in August generated by titles which support one of the Chinese languages.
The largest share of revenue is gained by local language apps in China, Japan and South Korea, while English titles gain the most in other markets.
Distimo believes that localised titles are more strongly represented in Asian countries as they use written characters unique to those cultures, meaning the Western alphabet is less likely to be understood.
Brazil was the only country where apps supporting the native language (Portuguese) were not the second largest contributor to the download volume in that market. Here, Spanish was the second most popular language – perhaps indicating that developers are not tailoring apps specifically for this audience.
While Canada has two main languages (English and French), these dominate only in terms of free downloads. For paid apps, English and German top the chart.
Increased downloads and revenue
The introduction of native language apps has been shown to boost download volumes and revenues.
Based on a sample of 200 iPhone apps which gained a native language version in August 2012, download volumes increased by 128 percent during the week following the introduction. China and Japan showed the biggest jumps.
The percentage change in revenue was much lower at just 26 percent, with China and South Korea showing the biggest increases. It was suggested that “consumers in China, Japan and South Korea value applications in their own language the most” – which again may be linked to differences in the alphabets and characters used.
In contrast, the introduction of new languages in iPad apps had a “very small impact”, contributing growth of 5 percent in revenue, with download volumes flat.