Internet linguistics you didn't know

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As a software developer you know all about the costs of getting a product coded, maintained and marketed, but what you may not know is the importance of localization - let's call this knowledge internet linguistics. Apps and mobile Web usage are the future of the Internet, and English is not the only language with a solid market share. High cell phone penetration in the US, UK, Australia and Canada pushed the market for the first several years, but a recent study shows that the US only makes up 28 percent of the free app download market and only 34 percent of paid app sales for the iPhone market. Who's next on the list? Not the UK, Canada or Australia. In the free app market, China comes in at number two, and Japan is second for paid apps. With non-English speaking countries increasing their mobile presence each year, software developers can't afford to ignore the potential opportunities. Either start translating software for international markets, or risk losing a big share of the market.

What Languages are the Best Bet for Internationalization?

For paid app purchases and mobile users, the current "top ten countries" are US, Japan, UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland and China. This means that developers only need translation services for five different languages to take advantage of the bulk of the market. More than three-quarters of the total app download market occur in one of these six languages. Because both Japanese and Chinese make the list, translation alone is not enough. Translation takes care of the text, but it doesn't fix function issues that occur when customer use a language that runs vertically and right-to-left. Putting globalization plans into place from day one can save a lot of money.

Don't Stop at the Top 10

Sure, the top ten make up the bulk of the software market, but the remaining 26 percent is not trivial. Developing countries improve their Internet user numbers every day. In developed countries, market penetration is fairly static. With at least one computer in almost every home, the United States market has nowhere to go. China added more Internet users in the past three years than live in the United States. Nigeria is projected to take the top spot for mobile internet users by 2015. Sure, the listed national language of Nigeria is English, but it is not the primarily spoken language. To appeal to the Nigerian market think about adding Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba to your localization plans. These are the three most spoken languages in Nigeria and represent a population of approximately 55.4 million people. That doesn't touch the larger populations of the more global languages, but it certainly represents significant unit sales for those properly positioned to take advantage of this rapidly expanding market.

Start Now and Beat Out the Competition

As with any product, software development is all about timing. Being the first to market gives you a big opportunity to gain a solid customer base. Think globally with production, and earn profits on a larger scale. Adding globalization plans to development products is a small investment with massive earning potential. Make sure you tap all existing and potential markets to maximize your return.