Ask Applingua: How do I Decide Which Languages to Localize My App Into?

Of all the questions we get asked by developers, this is probably the most common one. It’s the million dollar question (though no localization should ever cost that much!), and there’s never going to be an easy answer to all of the questions surrounding your choice..

“How do I know which languages my users speak? What if I pick the wrong languages? How do I narrow it down?”

Luckily, we’re here to help! We’ve put together three options which should hopefully make it easier for you to make an informed decision next time you decide to localize.

“How do I decide which languages to localize my app into?”

Option 1: Know your market

Choosing the right languages may be a lot easier than you think if your app is already for sale on an App Store. Just look at your current download stats and pick the top five countries that are showing potential despite the app only being available in your native language.

Don’t tell them we told you, but there’s also nothing stopping you looking at your competition. There are two tactics here: choose the same languages as them, or choose completely different languages to target markets they aren’t in yet! Either way, it’s probably best to always cover some of the major markets (Germany, Japan, etc).

Option 2: Test potential markets

If you’re absolutely clueless about which markets may be the best for your app (don’t worry, it’s not an exact science, how are you supposed to know!?) then try testing your market.

Many of our clients have reported success by just transiting their metadata (App Store Description and Keywords, for example) into different languages and monitoring sales increases. Be kind to your users and mention that the app isn’t yet available in their language, but you should see an increase in sales in markets that are interested at least.

Monitor those increases and choose the top results to translate the rest of your app 🙂

Option 3: Go blind, choose sensibly

If you’re going to jump into the deep end – we salute you, by the way – then just be sensible. Analysts and other developers report that sales are strongest in the countries you would expect, so try to avoid smaller markets that won’t give you a return on your investment.

In no particular order, the top six languages we would recommend are: Japanese, German, Russian, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, and French. If you really want to push the boat out, try Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese.

Golden rule

Start small and add later. It’s always easier to add languages than it is to remove them! 🙂


Robert Lo Bue

Rob is CEO of Applingua. With over a decade's experience, he is at the forefront of tech localization.