Mobile phones are becoming an increasingly common part of our everyday lives, but it isn't just in developed nations where they are having an impact.
According to The International Telecommunication Union in May this year, there are almost seven billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, with market growth being driven by demand from the developing world (in particular China and India).
Indeed, there are 5.4 billion mobile subscriptions in this part of the world – and with penetration at 90.2 per cent, this figure has plenty of room for growth. According to Portio Research, subscriptions worldwide could hit 8.5 billion by the end of 2016.
Cell phone manufacturers and the developers of things like apps clearly could have an excellent market in developing countries, but adopting a 'one size fits all' approach isn't likely to be the best way to target consumers and businesses in these nations.
This was an issue raised by Mozilla's vice president of planning and ecosystem Rick Fant in an interview with ITWeb. Because it was during the 16th annual AfricaCom conference, his comments referred to Africa, but they are actually applicable all over the world in ensuring mobile offerings have a wider appeal than just their origin nation.
"Everyone doesn't speak English. We need to ensure local languages are supported at launch and making sure we have local content is key," he remarked.
Mr Fant said that much of the digital economy has not yet switched over to mobile, so there are great opportunities to be had if companies are willing to make the most of them.
"If we can show the market what we have to offer, this has the potential to open up the mobile web to a great degree … Local matters. Localization matters. The big opportunity lies with the local market being relevant to local users," the expert concluded.
Why localization matters
When developing things like apps and hardware, localization might not come very high up on the list of priorities. However, it is incredibly important. For one thing, poor grammar or unintelligible content that comes about as a result of trying to use the same dialogue everywhere in the world can make products appear to be low in quality.
Furthermore, this whitewashing approach can result in companies simply missing out on vast swathes of people who could be valid target audiences, yet don't understand English.
For example, an incredible 50 per cent of the countries in the top ten for downloads and revenue in Apple's iOS App Store are non-English speaking countries from Europe and East Asia, according to App Annie.
Indeed, only around eight per cent of the world speaks English as a first language, yet the app market alone is skewed towards English-speaking countries.
Meanwhile, Appia states that 86 per cent of mobile advertising campaigns outperformed English-only versions in both click-throughs and conversions and 55 per cent of global consumers revealed in a Common Sense Advisory that they would only buy products from websites that were able to provide them with information in their own language. Indeed, 72.4 per cent said they always prefer to use their native language when online shopping and 56.2 per cent went so far as saying that this is even more important than price to them.
If potential target audiences are saying this and the figures support it, then shouldn't companies be listening to them and carrying out localization as a matter of course? After all, it should be worth it in the long run if it provides more downloads, purchases and, ultimately, revenue.
How to go about localization
It is important to see localization as a key part of product and service delivery, rather than simply an add-on to the main project. This way, companies can carry out targeting techniques such as altering cityscapes in video game layouts, changing character ethnicities in apps and offering instructions in multiple languages.
This could encourage local businesses to want to advertise within products or stock them if they are items such as cell phones.
A key point is to ensure that all descriptions and keywords are translated too, as well as screenshots that will be used for sales purposes.
There is lots to think about, but fortunately, services such as those provided by EQHO are there to help, no matter what industry you happen to be in. We can localize a range of projects and have teams of expert linguists who can deliver engaging and relevant customer experiences globally.
We can deal with everything from multimedia and apps to paper documents and have helped some of the biggest companies worldwide, so do contact us to learn more about localization for the mobile world.
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