A recent study from an online translation firm, determined that most applications developed anywhere in the world are written in English even when the developers are not from English speaking countries. 40% of the surveyed translations were general business applications, 30% were games (excluding gambling), and the remaining 30% were applications from different categories.
App developers generally cater to specific markets, so they translate their applications into the main languages of their target market. For instance, developers targeting the South American market (about 40% of the translated applications) translate their applications into Latin America Spanish and to Brazilian Portuguese. Developers targeting the European market (35% of the translated applications) translate their applications into German, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish and Russian. Applications targeted at East Asian markets (about 20% of the applications) are translated into Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, and Hindi. Finally, about 15% of applications are translated into Scandinavian languages including Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish.
Other markets, such as the huge market of Arabic speakers, are still untapped by application developers, mainly because the business potential in these markets is low, despite the enormous number of potential users. Some languages, like Arabic or Hebrew, require adapting the application to display right-to-left text, and this requirement, which entails more development time and higher costs, discourages many application developers.
Google recently selected One Hour Translation as a translation provider for the Android applications market. According to the company’s VP of Marketing, Mr. Yaron Kaufman, “43% of the successful applications are translated into additional languages, besides English.”
The group found that translating applications into leading languages leads to a five-fold increase in the number of users and purchases. They have found that for most developers, application translation is one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to raise the number of users and to boost purchases. It makes more sense to put outsourced effort into putting an application already on the market into other languages than to build a new app.