Windows Phone apps:
Seizing the opportunity in international markets
A practical guide to choosing the right markets and languages
 
INTRODUCTION
If your app for Windows Phone is doing well at home, now is a great time to think about localizing it. However big your domestic market, you’ll only be reaching a small part of the global audience. And in many world regions, business growth may be much stronger than at home. At the beginning, it can be tempting to jump on the first international opportunity that comes up. But take a little time now and you can plan an international strategy which will maximize your return on investment.
 
This practical guide will help you do just that. Find out how the numbers stack up, or jump ahead to see our recommendations for the key markets and languages you should choose for success. Use these insights to convince your partners and investors, and get ready to start localizing your app!
 
TOP LANGUAGE MARKETS
If you’re looking for immediate guidance on which markets and languages to choose, you’ve come to the right place! In the tables below, you’ll find our recommendations for the markets to choose, and the languages you’ll need in each of them.
 
The markets and languages are grouped in bands, which could be localized together, or prioritized within each group. Italics show some of the markets which may be added (if your app is suitable) after entering the primary market for that language. Once you have translated your content into German for Germany, for example, you may be able to re-use it at minimal cost in Austria or Switzerland.
 
For each market, we’ll show you:
  • The languages you’ll need to localize your app into
  • The factors which make this market worth entering. To understand more about why we recommend them, follow the hotlinks to the background data and read on
  • An estimate of the total share of Windows Phone app downloads which you could reach when you add this market and language
BAND 1: English-speaking markets outside US
 
 
Starting with 12% of global Windows Phone app download markets in the USA, go up to 28% by adding more English-language markets
Markets UK India Australia
Language(s) International English*
Why choose these markets? Share of WP app downloads Share of WP app downloads WP share of smartphone shipments
WP share of smartphone shipments Smartphone subscribers & growth  
Smartphone subscribers Overall value of online market
Overall value of online market  
Global Share** 17% 26% 28%
 
* Depending on the content of your app and sensitivity of your audience, you may be able to use US English in these markets. Lionbridge staff can give you more advice.
** Estimated share of global Windows Phone app downloads after you add this market
 
BAND 2: China
 
Next, to move from 28% of global Windows Phone app download markets to 38%, add this key third language
Markets People's Republic of China
Language(s) Chinese (Simplified)
Why choose these markets? Share of WP app downloads
Smartphone subscribers
Overall value of online market
Global Share** 38%
** Estimated share of global Windows Phone app downloads after you add this market
 
BAND 3: Western Europe & Latin America
 
Now move up to 65% of global Windows Phone app download markets with five more languages
Markets France Germany Spain Italy Brazil
Additional markets Belgium
Canada
Switzerland
Austria
Switzerland
Belgium
Mexico
Argentina
Switzerland  
Language(s) French German Spanish Italian Portuguese (Brazilian)*
Why choose these markets? Share of WP app downloads WP share of smartphone shipments WP share of smartphone shipments Share of WP app downloads Share of WP app downloads
WP share of smartphone shipments Smartphone subscribers   WP share of smartphone shipments WP share of smartphone shipments
Smartphone subscribers     Smartphone subscribers
Overall value of online market Overall value of online market
Global Share** 44% 46% 54% 58% 65%
 
* The varieties of Portuguese spoken in Brazil and Portugal are generally considered sufficiently different that you need to offer two distinct localized versions.
** Estimated share of global Windows Phone app downloads after you add this market
 
Band 4: Major markets in Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East
 
Keep growing, and add four more languages to reach 73% of global Windows Phone app download markets
Markets Russia Japan Korean Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE
Language(s) Russian Japanese Korean Arabic
Why choose these markets? Share of WP app downloads Smartphone subscribers Smartphone subscribers Smartphone subscribers
Smartphone subscribers Overall value of online market Overall value of online market Overall value of online market
Overall value of online market      
Global Share** 70% 71% 72% 73%
 
** Estimated share of global Windows Phone app downloads after you add this market
 
Band 5: additional markets in Europe & Asia
 
Extend your growth plan further, and reach an estimated 90% of global Windows Phone app download markets with seven additional languages (18 in all)
Markets Netherlands Sweden Poland Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Vietnam
Additional markets Belgium  
Language(s) Dutch Swedish Polish Indonesian Malay Thai Vietnamese
Why choose these markets? Smartphone subscribers (& growth in Asian markets)
Overall value of online market
Global Share** 90%*
 
* Estimate: WP app download data not available for every market ** Estimated share of global Windows Phone app downloads after you add this market
 
TAKING A CLOSER LOOK
 
The rest of this guide provides more background on the different factors to take into account and data for each of them. Find out how the numbers stack up to convince your partners and investors, and get ready to start localizing your app!
 
How will taking my app international help grow my business?
 
As the summary shows, in May 2014, the biggest single market for Windows Phone app downloads – the United States – accounted for just 12% of the worldwide total, according to Microsoft’s own data. Even adding in the world’s other English-speaking markets, English represented only 18% of the WW total. That leaves 82% which came from other countries and regions, where languages other than English are the main languages spoken.
 
What data should I look at?
 
Clearly, there isn’t a single ‘one size fits all’ answer to this complex question.
 
If you are ready to move fast and are looking for a quick payback on your investment, looking first at data relating to recent Windows Phone shipments and app downloads makes good sense. As Windows Phone is gradually building its global share, however, keeping track of those markets where the overall smartphone usage is highest and growing most strongly, is also important. Windows Phone should benefit from that overall development and its app business will expand over time. In the rest of this guide we’ll take you through successive sets of data which help determine the opportunity in each market.
 
As you work down through the layers of this chart – from the specific to the general – you should gain a general sense of the direction to take, which you can then fine-tune to match the opportunity for your business and the technical limitations of your app. Lionbridge’s experienced localization teams can help you build on this foundation.
 
Take a moment now to think about the factors which are specific to your app:
 
Now let’s cut to the chase and see what the data has to tell us!
 
Which are the most successful markets for Windows Phone?
 
The smartphone subscriber numbers presented later in this guide represent the installed base at the end of 2013, and the established players, Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) are naturally dominant. Data for the share of each mobile OS in the total smartphone installed base is not easily available. Since Windows Phone is a relative newcomer, however, it may be more helpful to look at the market share by operating system for shipments of new phones. Listing the markets in rank order where Windows Phone enjoys the biggest share in new phone shipments paints a slightly different picture from the data for all smartphone subscribers, as this data from Kantar Worldpanel shows.
If we look at Microsoft’s own information on Windows Phone app downloads by market, the data is broken out slightly differently, but many of the ‘usual suspects’ are there too, and all the leading markets for Windows Phone app downloads are among the top online and smartphone markets
Which markets have the highest numbers of smartphone users?
Drawing on subscriber data from Informa, Mary Meeker establishes a hierarchy of the 15 biggest established markets and the 15 most important developing markets, which we have combined in this view:
 
It is interesting to compare this data with the online market share data immediately below: 26 of the 30 countries show in both, and the exact order is only slightly different.
Which are the biggest markets for online and mobile use?
There’s plenty of data available – from providers such as Internet World Stats – to show overall Internet use around the world. Sources such as the CIA World Factbook let you compare population and GDP data for each country.
 
However, one of the most interesting ways of looking at the bigger picture is to combine a view of the online population in each country with its GDP, to understand the economic power of its online audience. Translated.net is one organization which does this, building its ‘T-Index’ to capture this measure. This chart shows its projection for the top 30 countries in 2016:
The shift to the mobile Internet
 
Mobile Usage=Continues to Rise Rapidly...
25% of Total Web Usage vs 14% Y/Y
One of the biggest changes in the past couple of years has been the huge growth in mobile usage and access to the Internet. In her influential survey of Internet Trends in May 2014, Mary Meeker reports:
 
Smartphone prices are declining every year, increasing their availability. In more and more countries, users are spending a greater proportion of their time viewing content on their smartphones than on TVs, PCs or tablets. Nowhere is this truer than in China, where last year mobile Internet users represented a staggering 80% of all Internet users.
 
If you develop Internet-based apps or services for the PC as well as mobile apps, this is a key trend to build into your plans. More and more, the opportunity to achieve a strong return on investment will come from mobile apps rather than PC-based access to the Internet.
 
Which languages do I need to be successful in these markets?
 
Before you finalize your list of international opportunities though, let’s stop and look at how languages and countries line up together.
 
Everyone speaks English anyway, don’t they?
 
For sure, English is all around us and may seem ‘cool’, but that doesn’t mean everyone speaks or understands it. Far from it, in fact. In the European Union, only 33% of the adults surveyed could speak English as a native or learned language. Outside Europe, in many of the world’s developing economies, knowledge of English is lower still.
 
Consumers will be much more likely to buy when information is presented in their language: as the title of the 2014 report from Common Sense Advisory summed it up, “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy”.
 
To be successful, you need to translate into the language(s) of the local market whenever you can. The Windows Phone OS is available in 54 different languages: a great foundation on which to build your localized app business!
 
One country, several languages
 
Often, matching languages to countries is easy: one language is spoken by the overwhelming majority of the population and is the sole official language of that country.
 
Sometimes though, countries are split into different language communities: French and English in Canada, or French, German and Italian in Switzerland, for instance. Tread carefully here: if you enter a country with just one of its official languages, you may offend potential customers who speak another official language, or even break the law! It may be better to wait until you are ready to offer all the languages spoken there.
 
One language, several countries
 
The upside of all this linguistic complexity is that one language may be used in many countries, like Spanish across Latin America or Arabic in many Middle East and North African markets. You can often turn this to your advantage: if your app doesn’t need extensive content changes, an investment in a major language for one market will often open up additional markets at a much reduced cost.
 
Languages like French and Spanish can also give you alternatives to English to fall back on: French in North Africa, for example, if you’re not ready to localize into Arabic, or Spanish ahead of Catalan in Catalonia.