Top 5 Languages to Localize Your App In

localize your app in different languages

Written by Kristina Temelkova

I'm from Stara Zagora, Bulgaria and I'm currently pursuing an English degree at the University of Vienna. My lifelong passions are languages and writing. I speak English, Bulgarian, German and Russian.

May 25, 2020

According to Statista in 2020, there are over 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide. 1 billion users have been added in the last 3 years alone with most of the growth coming from developing countries. This is why you should localize your app to reach these users and grow your business!

Localization is a costly service and therefore, one should carefully think it through before investing in it. Generally, it is hard to estimate the return of your investment. According to Distomo’s study localized apps increase their downloads by 128% while their profit rises up to nearly 30% for each country added in just a week!

Localization can also be a necessity when expanding your business into new markets. A 2011 study from the European Commission among 23 European countries showed the following:

  • Over 70% of the Internet users spend most or even all of their time on websites in their native language
  • Nearly 75% users claim that if the information about a product is in their own language, they are more likely to buy it.
  • Over 55% of the users on the Internet state that they value more the ability to obtain information in their native language rather than price.

Have we convinced you to localize your app yet?
If we have, then here is the answer to the next big question. How to choose the right language?

We have created a list of the 5 best languages for our app localization. We have taken into consideration not only the speaking population, but also economic growth and smartphone accessibility.

  1. English – the Language of Globalization

English is spoken by roughly 1.5 billion people in the world. The map below depicts the distribution of English speakers worldwide.

English speaking population world

Source

English is the most commonly used language on the Internet – nearly 1 billon users and more than half of all websites use English. English has established itself as the language of globalization and is, therefore, crucial for those entrepreneurs who want to shine on the global stage.

To create a more clear idea of the possibilities which English offers for your business, we have a short analysis of the three countries with the largest number of native English speakers.

US – It is estimated that nearly 80% of the population has smartphones and over 60% of them use an Apple device rather than an Android one.

UK – Nearly 83% of the population on the British island use smartphones and the distribution of Android and iOS users is almost even with the latter being 3% more.

Australia: Nearly 70% of the population has a smartphone. The iOS users are with 7% more than Android users.

Canada: Nearly 83% of the population has a smartphone. Around 57% users use iOS devices.

In former British colonies, there are a huge number of English speakers, who are not native but have native-like fluency. For instance, in India alone, there are 125 million English speakers while 92% of the Filipino population can speak English.

  1. Chinese Mandarin – the Language with the Most Speakers

The Chinese language could be a gold mine for your business. It is the language with the largest number of native speakers – nearly a billion, while more than 1.2 billion people can understand the Chinese Mandarin dialect. This dialect is distributed in Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, and Singapore. It is also the second most frequently used language on the Internet.

Chances are that if the Asian markets keep expanding, Chinese could surpass the popularity of English. What’s more, analysts predict that China will become the world’s leading economy by 2050 – yet another reason to localize your app in Chinese.

LinkedIn, Coursera and Evernote are some of the apps on the constantly-growing list of international companies that have successfully expanded in China. In fact, LinkedIn entered the Chinese market in 2014 and it reported revenue of nearly 50 million USD after the first year.

Chinese speaking countries map

Chinese speaking Countries and Regions worldwide (Source)

China –Up to 60% of the Chinese population uses smartphones and nearly 80% are Android devices.

Taiwan60% of the population use smartphones, however, the Android users are significantly fewer (over 52%) while the iOS devices are nearly 47%

An Android first policy usually works best when you localize your app for Chinese speaking markets.

 Also Read6 Reasons Why Mobile App Localization Matters For Global Success

  1. Hindi- The Language of India

Hindi has become the fourth most spoken language in the world and with India’s recent economic growth, it is a language worth investing in. Roughly 80% of India’s population speaks Hindi (including non-native speakers).

Hindi is also the 11th most spoken language in the US with over 650, 000 speakers. Moreover, in Mauritians, nearly half a million people or a third of the population speaks Hindi.

India has 500 million smartphone users- larger than the population of the USA! This number is expected to reach 859 Million in 2022.

An astonishing 95% of Indian smartphone users are on Android– something to consider when you localize your app for India.

A recent example of an app achieving great success in India is TikTok- it has been downloaded more than 467 million times in India. That’s more than double the number of users it has in China!

Source

TikTok users India

Localizing in Hindi can be a great way to test the Indian market. If you’re successful, there are 18 other widely spoken languages you can translate into to improve your reach.

This may seem expensive- however, translating into Indian languages costs a small fraction of European languages. In fact, you can translate into 2-3 regional Indian languages at the cost of one European language!

 

  1. German – The Language of European Industrial Power

Germany has established itself as a leading economy in Europe with a GPD of nearly 2.5 trillion Euros. German is a native language to over 95 million speakers and an official language of Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Belgium. A 2015 survey estimated that there are over 15.4 million German language learners worldwide, which is more clearly shown in the graph below.

German as a foreign language

German language learners in the EU. Source

It is important to mention that compared to the other languages, the number of German speakers is significantly lower. However, the countries in which German is an official language rank among the biggest economies in Europe and therefore, offer a great opportunity for developing your business.

Germany – The press release of the Federal Statistical Office shows that the average household consumption expenditure was 20,420 euros per capita in 2018. Compared to the EU average -only 15,710 euros, it is evident that German consumers could be a great opportunity for your business. Furthermore, nearly 80% of the population use smartphones while 70% use an iPhone device.

Austria – GDP per capita in Austria is 51,500 USD- among the highest in the EU . Almost 97% of the population use smartphones while 70% use an iOS. 88% of the population are native German speakers.

Also Read: How to Localize Your App and Reach New Users

  1. Spanish- the Fastest Growing Language

There are nearly half a billion native Spanish speakers in Europe, Central and South America.

13% of the American population or 41 million people are native speakers which makes the US the second biggest Spanish speaking country in the world. Therefore, if you plan on expanding your business in the US localizing your app in English might not be enough. The US Hispanic population is believed to double by 2050.

Up to 60% of the Latin population speaks Spanish while in Europe it is the 5th most common language. Below you could see a graph of the Spanish speaking population around the world:

Spanish speaking countries

Population of the Spanish-speaking countries (+ Puerto Rico) in 2011. Source

Spain – The average value from 1990 to 2018 was 29961.97 USD with a maximum of 34830.54 USD in 2018 according to the World Bank. Moreover, nearly 80% of smartphone users have an Android device.

Mexico: According to CEIC Data from the years between 2006 and 2016 annually the household expenditure per capita reached 1,644.456 USD in Dec 2016 while the average value is estimated to be 2,972.567 USD. The Android devices go up to 85% as stated in the recent statistics.

There are different dialects of Spanish in Latin America and Europe- make sure you translate into the right one!

Other Languages

There are other languages which are believed to increase their influence in the upcoming years.

The flourishing oil market in the Middle East make Arabic a very useful language for businesses trading.
Due the current position of Russia as an economic and political superpower, Russian has become the most important Slavic language.
The number of Japanese speakers is rather limited. Nevertheless, it is a highly valued language since Japan has established itself as the world’s third largest economy and a leader in the field of science and technology.

Turkish, Portuguese, Italian and French are all claimed to be among the fastest growing languages and therefore, could offer a wealth of new opportunities for your business.

Do you want to localize your app? Contact us for a free consultation.

 

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