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Distimo Reveals Why China, Japan, and Korea Are Key Localization Targets

It’s easy to think about the App Store as largely a western, and largely American phenomenon: it’s one of the largest revenue drivers, and success or failure there often means international failure. English is thus the most supported language in apps, particularly as it is such an international language as well now. But Distimo has put out information in their latest report that suggests while English may be the dominant language in the western world, success in the east requires apps to speak the native tongue.

There are three countries where English is not king: Japan, China, and South Korea. In these countries, apps that use the native tongue are the greatest revenue generators, though English generates the most downloads in those countries except for China. Japan and South Korea have been part of the smartphone culture for a long time now, even before the US, and as such may be more willing to spend money in applications that cater to their native language.

That China is the only country with the most downloads being in their native language does show how much of a lucrative opportunity that market is: they have over 1.3 billion people, or a billion more than the United States. They’re still an emerging market, but they’re showing a desire for localized content in a way that bucks the trends of the rest of the world. Non-native content still makes up a sizable chunk of downloads and revenue, but there is a definite demand for that content. This is something for developers to consider when looking to localize their game: China and these other Asian markets may be the top target, instead of the standard EFIGS.

For developers who add new localizations to their apps, what kind of impact can they expect to see? Well, Distimo says that downloads increase by 128%, and revenue by 26%. This is only on iPhone, as iPad showed minimal increases: 0% in downloads, 5% in revenue.

As an interesting side note, in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia, German is actually the second most popular language for generating revenue, beating even French in Canada. While this is really just a blip on the radar in these territories, it may say something that Spanish is not a decided #2 in these territories. Countries in the west where they speak a language other than English showed a higher proportion of downloads in their native language versus English than English-native territories.

This report is an interesting look into how the world is downloading and consuming their apps based on the languages they speak, and with app stores ecoming more international, multi-language localization is becoming more important. Distimo’s full free report is available from its website.

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Carter Dotson
Connect with Carter Dotson // email // twitter


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