A little of a week ago I published a major update to my app Pedometer++. This update was mostly focused around improving the visual appearance of the app but also included a new collection of localizations. Specifically adding support for German, Spanish, French, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Italian and Japanese. My prior experience with localization had been a mixed bag, where the added cost and complexity never really paid off.
Pedometer++ has been an entirely different experience. Localizing the app has boosted downloads outside of English speaking countries (not USA, GB or AU) by around 300% and overall downloads by 60%.
Here is a before and after of the distribution of downloads by country. It pushed US downloads down from around 65% to now only 35% of my daily downloads.
It is interesting to see how certain localizations hit while others didn’t. For me adding German and Russian have paid off massively (12x and 19x better respectively). While the others have generated only modest gains. I’m not sure you could realistically guess which languages will pay off the most but this hit-and-miss result makes me think that broad coverage is likely a good idea to discover the countries where you hit.
An even more dramatic view of the impact is to look at total daily downloads by country excluding english speaking countries (USA, United Kingdom and Australia). The bump, even after the launch buzz has died down, is clear and sustaining so far.
While these results might not apply to every app I’m definitely more confident that localization is a good idea, with real business upsides than I was before this exercise.