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It's obvious that to gain more customers on any given platform, one of the most important steps to take would be to localize your software into many languages: as many as possible, ideally. However, with independently developed apps, it tends to be difficult to localize into many different languages, due to not having the budget and / or time to do so. My question is if I were to localize my apps into languages other than English on the iOS App Store, which languages should I prioritize? (Maybe the top three or four most important.)

(Also, let's pretend this is a generic app that won't cater more to one language demographic than another.)

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closed as primarily opinion-based by MichaelT, gnat, Robert Harvey, GlenH7, Kilian Foth Oct 25 '13 at 11:47

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Heresay from 1 developer was that Korean, Japanese and French localizations seemed to cause the most noticeable increases in sales. But this of course might vary with the apps general popularity, cultural suitability, and amount of other localized competition.

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Good thing about Korean (compared to all other Asian languages except Tagalog and Bahasa): very easy to read and write. If you don't already read Chinese or, God forbid, Japanese, don't even try to do the localization yourself. French uses (mostly) the same characters as English of course, and there are a lot of words in common, so it's even easier, but the only places that actually use it are France itself, bits of Canada, and countries (like Benin and Haiti) where owning an iPhone would practically make you a member of parliament. –  Malvolio Jun 29 '11 at 1:03

As a localization professional, I work with a lot of developers on their apps and always ask questions like this. In truth, it varies considerably because apps gain traction in different countries almost at random. Well, not really random, but it has a lot to do with whether a blog or foreign language post talks about the app, giving it that first nudge up the charts. This isn't all too different from English-language apps, you know!

I always recommend for developers to localize in languages where they SEE (in iTunes Connect) people already downloading. Notice an uptick in downloads from Germany? Localize into German and you'll see those numbers take off. However, translate it into French when zero users are currently downloading it, and you may or may not succeed. It's not just about numbers, it's about momentum.

Generally, the most successful languages are: Spanish, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Italian.

The bottom line is: if your app isn't successful in English, don't localize it. That won't change anything. But if your app is successful, start in one or more of the languages above and see where it takes you!

I wrote a blog post about this in more detail here: http://www.ibabbleon.com/copywriter-translator/2011/04/what-languages-are-worth-localizing-your-app-into/

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Easy answer: Japanese. Very populous, wealthy country with comparatively few English speakers. Plus, they're gadget crazy.

Spanish and Chinese will give you more reach, but they're poorer on average and less likely to even have an iPhone, let alone buy your app.

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SmoothLocalize.com has stats on their home page of how many users are in each country. In my own experience, I would say start with Japanese, German, and Spanish. I actually sell more apps in Japan, than the U.S. They are just as wealthy and tech-crazed as the U.S., and your app's competitors likely haven't localized there, so there is less competition.

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According to recent statistics from GIGAOM and DISTIMO, a leading mobile app research firm, and other sources, Asian countries have the highest rate of growth in localized apps. It is recommended that localization in Chinese and Japanese are the most profitable and will continue to grow in native language download activity, AND developers who localized their apps in native Asian languages saw an average of 25% increase in app sales, so we recommend starting there.

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I see from your profile that you work in mobile application localization and link to your product. This isn't generally acceptable, unless your tool provides an answer to the question asked. I've removed the link from your answer - if you have any questions or problems, please feel free to ask a question on our Programmers Meta site. –  Thomas Owens Feb 24 '13 at 21:47
Note that I did keep the link to the company that originally published the data - this appears to be legitimate and unrelated to your company. If there is a relation, please disclose it in your post. –  Thomas Owens Feb 24 '13 at 21:49

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