As mobile technology spreads across the globe, digital app markets are following. For global success, app developers must now monitor this trend and react accordingly.
While breaking into developed markets like the US may be seem like the holy grail for developers, the reality is that the majority of app market growth now comes from emerging markets like India, Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil, among a number of Latin American countries. To overlook them means missing out on a huge user base and the masses of accompanying revenue sums.
Meanwhile, developed app markets are becoming increasingly saturated meaning that it is harder than ever to stand out. Localizing your app abroad - whether it is just a translation or a full app overhaul - could be the difference between its global success or failure. So what should you consider if you want to localize right now?
1. Pay Attention to Emerging App Nations - It’s Where the Market is Heading
Growth of app usage and downloads in developed countries has now slowed with global growth being driven largely by emerging mobile markets. Although market research firm App Annie reported that the total time spent in apps had grown by 25% from 2016 to 2017, this growth, it commented, was ‘largely a result of an exploding global user base’. By 2021, Eastern and developing markets are predicted to drive this user base up from 3.4 to 6.3 billion users with a value of $6.3 trillion.
At Papumba, we recently found these to be our top monthly sessions per language in our Animal Sounds app: Portuguese (18%), English (17%), Spanish (15%), Indonesian (9%), Russian (5%), Turkish (4%) and French (3%).
Countries previously at the peripheral of the app market have grown rapidly and are now overtaking their developed rivals. India, with its 220 million smartphone users, has now become the highest Android app user in the world. In 2016 users in India downloaded 6.2 billion apps through Google Play, up from 3.6 billion in 2015. India also spent the most time on Android apps just ahead of Brazil - another promising market with 272 million cellphones to target.
In the iOS market, China has now surpassed the US with the biggest number of downloads and the largest app store revenue whilst continuing to show signs of impressive growth.
Studies show that the countries spending the most time on apps are South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan, whilst the nations with the highest average number of monthly apps used per day were Brazil, India, and China. Smartphones are becoming cheaper and more available, overtaking computers as the main internet access device. Internet access has also become ubiquitous globally.
In short, the market potential in Latin America and Asia is bigger than ever and keeps growing. It is only logical to focus on this area when you begin exploring your potential to localise.
2. When Choosing Where to Localize, Analyze a Country for its Future Potential in Downloads and Payment Growth
To capitalize on the continuing growth in the international mobile app market, companies must be selective. Localising an app for every nation is very hard to achieve and focus has to be narrowed; a good bet is targeting countries that do not just generate significant revenue now, but are projected to continue generating revenue into the future.
Whilst some countries may currently have impressive revenue figures, their growth could be slowing and their mobile usage peaking. This trend is seen across many developed nations such as the US, or in Europe.
In contrast, APAC countries - particularly in Asia - are highly populated, some of the most mobile-driven regions in the world, and continue to see rapid growth.
Within this developing market, certain countries have particularly attractive market conditions. Of Indonesia’s 250 million people, for example, 85% own a mobile phone. Whilst only half of those mobiles are smartphones, this number is quickly growing as Indonesia continues to see healthy GDP growth of over 5%. For such reasons, in some of our apps, Indonesia now makes up nearly a tenth of our user base.
App developers should also consider selecting markets depending on their type of app. Game applications, for example, are likely to see more use in South Korea and Japan where users spend an average of 75 minutes a day on games as opposed to just 30 in the USA. Depending on the type of app you are marketing, certain countries will be more receptive than others. Bear this factor in mind alongside the market’s potential for growth.
3. Localize Your App In An Unsaturated Market
The quality of apps developed in emerging markets remains low. As a result, app users often opt for foreign-built apps even though they utilise a different language.
If you can create a good quality app in a native language, you gain a significant edge over competition, and with this comes a great opportunity for sales. 62% of those surveyed in leading Middle Eastern markets stated that they would not download Arabic apps as they preferred international apps, did not find what they wanted in Arabic apps, or simply did not find them to be of good quality.
In such markets competition is far lower and therefore opportunities are higher. In developed markets, users are already maxing out users’ time as it is a finite resource. To gain users they face the task of drawing attention away from existing apps and towards their own. In developing markets, such a level of competition does not exist and there is a large appeal for high-quality, localized apps. In Latin American countries, such as Brazil, 95% of the population do not speak English, meaning there is a potentially advantageous favoritism towards apps in the native language (Portugese).
Less competition breeds more opportunity, so translate your app and target app markets that are not already saturated.
4. Research and Seriously Consider Local App Stores
Of China’s over 200 app stores, the top ten include Baidu, Mobile Assistant and Myapp - all of which now boast impressive sales figures.
Chinese alternatives to the Google Play store, such as Mobango and Yandex, are growing domestically as well as in countries such as India. These markets can offer a higher likelihood of app success abroad as they have features designed to facilitate app localisation such as billing systems that do not require credit cards.
These app stores are also less competitive and thus easier to conquer. They should be taken seriously for those seeking quick app growth. Overlooking them and expecting the Apple app store to do all the work could mean your app struggles overseas.
Developed app markets are slowing whilst undeveloped markets continue to see rapid growth. Undeveloped markets also hold less competition meaning that it is easier to gain a following through localisation. Offering a localised app could ultimately mean the difference between your app lingering in the depths of the app store or it cutting through the noise to become a bestseller.