Should I Translate My App?

This might come as something of a surprise, but South Korea boasts the fastest internet connection speed in the world.  (The U.S. ranks 13th, behind such digital powerhouses as Latvia and Romania.)  It’s somewhat less of a surprise when you consider that South Korea’s national pastime is a video game, and that it’s also where Samsung plants its flag, but one thing is certain:  any region as digitally connected as this is fertile territory for mobile app developers looking to expand beyond their own borders.

We’re using South Korea as an example, but the fact of the matter is that the mobile app industry is growing more or less everywhere, not just in North America.  The phenomenon was important enough for Distimo to dedicate last month’s report both to the internationalism of mobile apps as well as the need to make English-only apps available accessible to peoples of other regions where they might thrive.

English still rules the roost, but of all the countries in Distimo’s study, Brazil was the only one where the native language (Portuguese) didn’t come in at least in second place.  In other words, in most countries English apps are still the most popular, with the native language apps ranking a close second.

Not so for Asia, or at least for most of Asia.  As it turns out, China, Japan, and South Korea actually prefer their mobile apps to be in their native tongues.  Distimo also tracked the performances of mobile apps that went native, so to speak, and the results were quite impressive:  the week following the release of translated versions the apps saw a 128% increase in the download rate.

Of course, translating an app into a foreign language doesn’t make sense for every product on the market, particularly those with a localized focus.  But if your mobile app isn’t regionally specific, hiring a translator could very well prove to be the cheapest, easiest step you can take towards making your app available to over a billion potential customers.

One word of warning:  if you’re going to hire a translator, make sure it’s a good one.  You never know what you might end up with if you don’t.

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