Multilingual software app developers have a unique competitive advantage, as more people throughout the world adopt new mobile smartphone and media tablet devices. Locally-developed and well-translated content is the key to having mobile apps discovered by consumers.
According to the latest market study by ABI Research, in Apple's Japanese App Store, 87 percent of the ten highest-ranked apps in all 21 categories were available in Japanese, as of February. Germany (83 percent) and France (82 percent) were other markets where over four-fifths of the highest-ranking apps were available in the local languages.
In China, Chinese-speaking apps accounted for 76 percent of the highest-ranked apps -- with about half of them developed specifically for the local market.
ABI senior analyst Aapo Markkanen said, "Our findings confirm that apps that fit into the local culture, or at least speak the audience's native language, see a measurable boost in their download rankings."
This latest research finding could mean two things. First, domestic developer communities will always have a certain edge in winning over the consumer's hearts and minds. Second, larger developer houses with global ambitions risk seeing their expensive releases go unnoticed if they don't localize the content properly.
However, designing apps solely according to consumer needs is often not enough. Developers who struggle to be discovered should envisage and pay attention to what the device vendors that distribute and curate apps want to showcase about their products.
ABI practice director Dan Shey lists technologies that, if employed smartly, could pay off for the developers this year.
"A lot of future Android handsets will support NFC, so we expect Google and its OEM partners to promote the first wave of NFC-based apps strongly," says Shey.
"Apple is already giving extra visibility to apps that leverage the new iPad's Retina display and its next favorite thing will likely be voice recognition, once Siri's API gets launched. Microsoft’s focus will be in live tiles, while RIM wants to see developers embedding BlackBerry Messenger into apps."
ABI Research's latest report takes a holistic look at the dynamics of how consumers discover apps and how developers can take advantage of this in their launch and marketing strategies. The report also assesses the opportunities that stem from the challenges in discovery, explaining how players from various parts of the value chain can connect users to the right apps.