Apple Asking Developers to Localize Apps, Opens Chinese Support Forum

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    AppleInsider is reporting that Apple has contacted app developers via its iTunes Connect program to ask them to localize their apps in multiple languages and to market that their apps and books are localized.
    Apple also rolled out a Chinese Support Communities forum, which would give speakers of various Chinese languages the opportunity to help out fellow Apple users in their native tongues.

    The move signals how important China has grown to Apple in the past year, as during a quarterly results call in January Apple revealed that revenues in China were up 67 percent. iPhone saw its most significant growth come in the country as well, up more than 100 percent year-over-year.

    Apple has recently had to deal with controversy in China over criticism about its iPhone warranty policies in the country. In response, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued an open letter and Apple Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams traveled to China to deal with the public relations fallout.

    Article Link: Apple Asking Developers to Localize Apps, Opens Chinese Support Forum
  2. macrumors 6502

    Apr 26, 2011
    no worries, I'll spend the rest of my life learning these languages.
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    That's nice.

    So who is going to pay for the translators to translate my stuff into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, and Arabic "just to start"?

    Is it even worth it? I get sales from China and Japan all the time. A few months ago a Japanese blog/website "featured" my app by writing a nice review out of nowhere, which followed up by a few thousand sales that very same day. Not a single person asked about translations, but I did get several well written emails in english (more well written then most emails I get from english speaking folks, fancy that) asking about future features and tweaks.

    It would be nice if Apple offered some kind of statistics on what I can expect in return for localizing, since doing so is neither straight forward nor cost free for me as a developer. It costs me enough of my own time to produce an english only application. I can't imagine trying to juggle 20 different languages and keeping those localization files up to date across application updates with UI tweaks.

  4. macrumors 603


    Jan 20, 2010
    I agree with you; I've toyed with the idea of localizing, but it seems like it's a real pain to do, and probably isn't worth it in the long run anyways.
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 23, 2007
    I've had the same thing happen. Japan is actually my #2 country after the US for app sales and I haven't had single request for translation of any kind.

    I figure if you design the app properly you don't really need to translate anything.
  6. macrumors member


    Apr 25, 2011
    Translating the app is probably only necessary for specialised things, while most games should be fine. A translated iTunes info page can help, though.
  7. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 5, 2006
    Tokyo, Japan
    The reason that these users didn't ask about translations is that their English skills are good enough that they can use the English version of your app. They also represent a very tiny fraction of the market; in terms of English proficiency, Japan ranks latest in the 35 nations classified as "advanced economies."

    Is there any other country in which you could release a "language pack" for $30 on top of the $60 you already charge for the multi-language version of the game?
  8. macrumors 65816


    Jul 11, 2008

    Apple can have *everything* they produce localized. But a small developer? Probably not. Since English is used in pretty much every country by the well-educated, I think it's not of major importance to spend money on all those langs.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2011
    New Zealand
    I'm fluent in French and English if anyone needs a translator :D
  10. macrumors 68000


    Sep 13, 2011
    China is not Japan. Making that comparison is simply displaying your ignorance of the two environments.

    If you are serious about selling into the Chinese market, you will release a Chinese version of your app, and figure out how to support that market.

    We opened an office in Shanghai and expect app sales in China to quickly exceed the total sales in the rest of the world.
  11. macrumors regular


    Mar 20, 2007
    Houston, TX
  12. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 5, 2006
    Tokyo, Japan
    This is probably the reason why the whole world gladly pays for the English version of most of their apps, games, movies, books, etc...
    Oh wait, they don't.

    Localizing your app won't guarantee that it will be a success in all markets, but not localizing your app guarantees that it will never be.
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    Who is going to pay for it?

    It will cost you about $450 for 2000 words. In 12 different languages, that's $6000 per app. Granted this is on the high side, but the point is that localization is NOT FREE. You better be damned well sure your app is going to sell before you invest that kind of money into it.

    IMHO; Apple shouldn't have sent this email out at all. Localization is not our problem but they're acting like they're going to make it our problem in the near future by throwing up roadblocks to force developers to localize.

    And why should we localize? So Apple can sell more stuff in that country and push more hardware. Why am I footing the bill of making Apple's stuff popular all of a sudden? Why isn't Apple offering a program to me where if I make more then $12,000/year off any given app, they'll have it translated for me? Why don't they even have a web page somewhere with some statistics that I can look at (which update weekly) and say "If I localize for country XYZ, I can generally expect to make 50% more then what I'm making off this app now"?

  14. macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    Pretty much agree with a lot of the sentiment here, but one important thing to add, is that Apple woefully underestimates what "localization" actually means.

    Many countries, in particular Asia, often have radically different cultural practices and customs to the west. Localization can often mean understanding the culture itself and adjusting your output accordingly. A famous example would be games removing all imagery of bones, or skeletons as Blizzard had to painstakingly do when they launched World of Warcraft in China. No mean feat in a game where skulls are liberally sprinkled throughout the entire gaming environment.

    I've worked in Japan as a software developer for over 10 years and remember once emailing a foreign developer of a school timetabling application (actually it was PC desktop software rather than an app) to tell them that they needed to add an option to add classes on a Saturday, because a large percentage of Japanese schools are open 6 days a week.

    Then you have the problem of support. If you offer an app in Chinese, people are going to assume that they can email you in Chinese. Do you want to just ignore communications that come in? Should you answer emails sent in English, but provide a lower level of support to some customers simply because they don't speak the same language as you?

    Apple just sending out "go and translate your apps" emails helps no one really. It just makes them seem out of touch with the limited resources that small developers have.
  15. Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    Whakatane, New Zealand
    This story from the Windows 95 days is a bit technical but it's something that I wouldn't have even thought of!
  16. flottenheimer, Apr 12, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013

    macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2008
    Up north
    Well, for what it is worth I've just been on a 16 day vacation in Tokyo and I can assure you that at least 90% don't speak english at all. They will get OK, yes, no and Coca-Cola. But that's all.
    And oh, around half — that's 50% : ) — were using an iPhone.

    Just ask your App users for some help. I just did a Danish translation of Little Things Forever for free, because I wanted my kids to be able to play it. I'm sure there are a lot of people willing to help out.

    PS: Sad to see that Danish is not on Apples 'important languages' list. It's a small country, but iPhones and children with iPhones are everywhere.
  17. macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2013
    I only localize my stuff for English, maybe Latin. Too bad if you don't speak either.
  18. macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2011
    The rest of the world is learning English and most likely already know basic english, which is all that's required for a great app (those that use universal gestures/UX).

    It's unfair for Apple to expect indie developers or even small studios with limited resources to spend them on localization. I'd much rather spend time polishing the app to perfection instead of attempting to localize the app with what would likely be terrible translations in the first place.

    Let's see I speak another language fluently and I'd much rather have a polished app in English than a localized one lacking quality.
  19. macrumors 68000

    Apr 27, 2005
    As an app developer, why would you NOT want to try and localize your app in a few key languages? I can understand that cost might be a concern. But that would be outweighed by potentially a huge boost in sales
  20. macrumors 6502a

    szw-mapple fan

    Jul 28, 2012

    Make it intuitive enough and you won't need other languages.
  21. Guest

    Apple fix your **** (icloud, imessage, iTunes, etc...) then you will be allowed to ask dev something about their jobs.

    Until then, shut up and fix ...
  22. macrumors 601

    Compile 'em all

    Apr 6, 2005
    This isn't true. I have recently released TodoMovies 2.0 ( and it is localized in 15 languages (+English). The App is simply content heavy, and no matter how intuitive it is (i did my best to make it so), you need to localize the text in there. Take a look at the screenshots.
  23. macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2013
    I haven't heart anything so stupid in a long time. I's always worth to translate into major languages apart from English unless your application is about English-specific language jokes ;)

    I've got iPhone 4, my wife 4S. I spend a hundred or so $ on apps every year. My wife not a dime. Why? I want to show her a great/useful app, but she says: "In English only? No, thanks."

    She DOESN'T CARE to write to developer to translate their apps. She just ignores them having been ignored by them earlier (by their not providing localized versions).
  24. macrumors 603


    Oct 28, 2007
    Geez, Apple is doing everything possible to whore themselves out to China. This has nothing to do with "localizing" your app, but everything to do with adding Chinese language support.
  25. macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2007
    If Apple wants my apps localised they can pay for it. It's not worth my time and effort, and have never had anyone complain about any of them only being in English.

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