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Chances are you have developed, or are still developing, one of the millions of mobile apps available on the two main app stores – Google Play and Apple’s App Store. It’s a tough market to get into considering both stores approve over 500 apps each day and competing against the big game developers (ie. Gameloft, EA, Disney, Rovio) is tough.

So what can you do about it?

Well, you should look for ways to gain competitive advantage in every way you can. Even though the aforementioned companies almost always publish their apps in several languages, one of the things you can do to edge the competition is to translate your own mobile app and be on par with the big boys.

Most developers are happy about having their apps in English because “that’s the most popular language” in the world, but that’s not really true. Read on to learn how you can reach wider audiences and increase app revenue and why translating your mobile app into multiple languages could be the best decision you’ve ever made.

Why you should translate your app?

What most developers tend to forget is that English isn’t even the main language of the Internet. India, Russia, China, South Korea, Malaysia, and Asia as a whole, account for over 45% of the Internet users. English natives account for less than 27%! Are you starting to see the bigger picture? Ok, now that we’ve looked at the number of people using the Internet we need to know how many people actually use mobile devices. According to a recent report, China is the biggest mobile market with 1,246.3 million users, followed by India with 893.3m. The USA is in 3rd place with 345.2m mobile users. At 4th and 5th places stand Brazil (272.6m) and Russia (237.1m). Only one of the top 5 countries speaks English natively. Not forgetting that the USA has 25 million Spanish speakers as well. mobile-phone-usage-graph What does that all mean for mobile app developers? If a potential user doesn’t understand what your mobile app does, it’s very likely that they won’t download it. The big game studios can afford multilingual app translation, budgets that independent developers cannot.  However there are ways you can make translation more cost effective with a quick turnaround time. Of course there are mobile apps and games that don’t need to be translated. Apps like Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, Swing Copters, are not very language centric and the gameplay is easy to comprehend. But for the rest, proper translation is a must. A recent experiment conducted by the Make App Magazine found that after targeting non-English speaking countries, such as France, Italy, Russia, Japan and China resulted in an astonishing 767% increase in downloads. Translating your app means reaching people you haven’t considered before. Translation is probably your first step. Localisation is what you have to do next.

Mobile app translation vs. app localisation

Knowing what translation and localisation is can be confusing, right? Let’s take a look at how Oxford Dictionaries define “Translation” – the process of translating words or text from one language into another. Pretty clear, nothing complicated. But what about localisation? In its basic form it’s defined as “to make something local”. That’s very different to what translation entails. So, what does that mean for your mobile application?  Localisation will require more work than translation. You will not only localise the context of the content but also the photos used in the app, date formats, research the specific meanings of colours. In its essence, localisation is about understanding the cultural differences and adapting accordingly. The best way to ensure high quality localisation is by hiring an in-country industry specialist who works in your industry. localisation-translation

What is the process of mobile app translation services? 

You can translate your mobile app while you’re developing it. This is probably the best option because by the time you have finished the game, the translation will also be ready. You will immediately be able to reach foreign audiences. Translating the mobile apps after they’ve been published is also an option, especially if you have an existing app. When you have an existing audience downloading it you can tap into the analytics. This means that you can find out where your app is popular, which country and language. From there deciding on the language is easy. To save money, you can just choose the 2nd or 3rd most popular destination and gradually expand the number of translations available for your app. You can email me directly at nik.andreev@wolfestone.co.uk and I’ll send you a checklist with all the steps required when translating and localising mobile software.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the mobile world is expanding quickly. The more languages your mobile app ‘speaks’, the more downloads you will generate. Using free online machine translation tools is never a good approach. Users will be put off by inconsistencies in the context and the bad grammar. Working with a professional translation agency is probably the only good investment you can consider if you want to reach more people and increase revenue.

 

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by Nik Andreev

Nik is the content manager at Wolfestone. He blogs about social media and international digital marketing. He also likes graphics design and video editing. When not creating exciting content, he spend his time reading Sci-Fi and drinking coffee.