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I have several iOS/iPhone apps that have been continually selling in small amounts in over 2 dozen different countries, even though the app UIs and all the store descriptions are only in English. In a few countries where English is not the official or native language, a few apps are selling far better than is proportionate for those country's population size compared with the U.S.

So why Internationalize apps?

What kind of increase, if any, in sales might a typical app see if it is Internationalized into given local languages? Which major languages might be likely to see the greatest improvement in app sales or downloads due to a localized app description?

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Most (computer literate) people have at least some English as a second language, and an english app is a lot better than a badly performed i18n. –  Nifle Dec 30 '10 at 12:56
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Amen to @Nifle. I'm German and I use as much software as possible in English as I encountered far too many worthless, sometimes even misleading, translations. –  delnan Dec 30 '10 at 13:31
    
@delnan: I wonder if Google is partly responsible for this. I've translated stuff into Japanese using Google. I had no idea if any given translation was good, and in cases where there were multiple translations I could only guess at random. (I needed placeholders in an I18N project, and we did have Japanese speakers available for real translation when the project was done.) –  David Thornley Dec 30 '10 at 15:56
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2 Answers

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It's going to depend on your market.

If your market is a largely technical or is quite niche then translating probably isn't an issue as your users are probably OK with it being in English and in some cases may actually prefer it being in English.

If your market is the general population then translation is probably a good idea as it will increase the reach of your application. In certain countries that protect their native languages (e.g. France) translation would be pretty much essential.

So you need to analyse your current market and where you want to go with your apps to see if internationalisation is actually worth it. Then tackle the languages in market order, but languages like French, Spanish and Portuguese that are either 1st or 2nd languages in a number of countries would seem to be the most obvious choices.

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I agree with ChrisF, it really depends on your target market.

In my opinion, if you want the see more revenue based on sales in non-English speaking markets, the best languages to tackle are:

  • Japanese
  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • Chinese (Simplified)

Especially China, as users in this market tend to shy away from products containing English text, (it also may become illegal soon - http://mcaf.ee/7a162).

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