It strange how some applications become super popular in one country and stay absolutely ignored by others. It may happen if citizens of one area see something offensive in the content of an app or, they already have something similar. Each developer and a product owner have to decide whether they will develop an app for global or for local market because it can be a turning point in the history of either beloved or forgotten application.
What does a localized app mean?
To decide what type of app local or global you want to build, we need to understand what both mean. Local app is an application that provides some community specific needs. It’s an app that was designed to develop some specific purposes of people that live in a particular country or area. For people from other countries, such apps can be not even uninteresting but pointless.
Global app is an app that covers a large territory and has no limits for downloads. Usually, such applications are not tied to any country or nationality.
Best local apps examples
We all know the names of the most popular worldwide applications that are famous and recognizable all over the globe. Apps like Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Tinder or Periscope probably need no special introduction. However, there are lots of apps that gained huge popularity in a particular country or area. Let’s take a look at them and the stories behind their success.
Taobao is an e-commerce app that works similarly to E-bay or Wish apps. The project was developed by Alibaba group in 2003. It has a C2C business model (customer to customer) and gives small business and retailers an opportunity to work on Chinese online shopping market. The app had more than 370 mln users in 2010.
Taobao website screenshot
There are two ways how sellers can make a deal. They can announce a fixed price on some goods or to auction. Each customer can rate a seller, comment his work or complain in a case of indecent treatment.
Now, the app and site work all over the world. Nevertheless, China and Chinese speaking countries are still the main customers here.
Teen Patti is a gambling card game, developed specifically for the Indian audience. Why? Because it’s a traditional game for Indian people which they can play now in a mobile app and on the site. The game itself is a simplified version of poker.
Teen Patti app screenshot
For many years there were no games specially designed for the Indian market. People tend to adopted western trends instead of creating something for themselves. To tell the truth, for a long time there was no such need as only a few people had smartphones at that times. However, it has changed and as we all know, if there is a demand there will be an offer.
The story of Pandora Radio app creation is amazing. It all started many years ago when a group of enthusiasts decided to process songs in a very unusual way. They hired professional musicians who defined 400 characteristics of each song and put all this data into a database. The project changed it's purpose many times. What we have now is a music app which memorizes your preferences and offers you the songs with a strong likelihood that you will enjoy them even if you haven’t heard them yet.
Pandora Radio app screenshots
The app is available only if you live in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The reason of such limited geography is music licensing. However, we hope that it will change soon and the app will be available all over the world.
One more extra popular local app is TransitTimes+. It’s an app that works in Australia. It shows all the public transport facilities in Australia making locals’ lives easier. You can not download the app unless you are in the country. Which is rather sensible because why would you want to know what time the train from Lynbrook to Endeavour Hills lives (if there is such) if you are not in Melbourne.
TransitTimes + app screenshots
There are lots of apps of this type. All of them became ultra popular for good reason. Many of them plan to expand their geography and become global and something tells me that they will manage to do it. Yet, without a small start in a limited area, it would be impossible to do.
It is a very typical question to a developer or a product owner whether it is better to create a local or global application. There is no right or wrong answer. Yet, we’d like to explain why with some apps it is better to start local and when it is better to introduce your app to the whole world.
Globalization vs Localization
Let’s look closer at the cases when small application localization is not a fault but an asset.
When local app development is preferable
Strong national idea
If your app just like Teen Patti has a very nationalized idea or connected with a tradition or custom then it is better to make it local. It doesn’t mean that people in other countries will not be interested in your app at all. However, it is better not to rely on this audience from the very beginning.
You already have a small local business
If you are an owner of a cafe or a restaurant (only in one country) and you’ve decided to develop an app for iOS or Android you probably understand that people (at least not many of them) from other countries will book a table or order food with delivery from your place. The same with a taxi, delivery services, and other services on demand.
Apps for specific spots
What we mean here is that you’re developing an app that has to solve issues of a particular place. For instance, it can be a parking application, apps for airports and other places tied to a specific geoposition.
Event apps and city guides
Such applications have bright future. However, it is better to start with limited area. Only when your product becomes popular you can go further and expand your business.
Applications developed specifically for one company are rarely global. Mostly because there is no such need.
If any of mentioned above cases describe your future project then you need to apply a localization strategy.
When it is better to go global
And again, there is no right answer. You can make global all the listed above types of application and be successful if your marketing plan is good enough.
Here are some examples of applications which would be better to create an app with global localization:
Choosing global audience
You build an app for travel business
If you want to make an app with the hotel list only for your country, go ahead. Yet, modern users prefer to have all-in-one apps so there are more chances that an app would be downloaded if it offers all spectrum of services and would cover the majority of touristic countries.
You have an international business
If you are a businessman whose offices (or cafes or whatever) are situated in different countries it would be sensible to develop an app to cover a large territory. For instance, you need a logistic app for your warehouse and transportation business, this app has to work in any part of the world.
Apps where user’s location is irrelevant
It can be fitness, healthcare, educational applications and many others. If your app isn't tied to one particular country and all users get the same services then why should you limit yourself with only one area?
To create a good application for a global audience don’t forget to make some preparations.
First of all, translate the content of the app. The most important is to have English version, other languages you can add based on your target countries and audiences. After that, you need to translate keyboard and other control elements. Now, think about titles, names, and headings. Make sure that you choose an appropriate title. Think twice about the content of an app and about the people who will use it, about their religions and traditions. If there is such a need, change pictures and videos.
If you are not sure that you are ready to go global, start with one area or one community. We can remember lots of examples how small at the beginning applications became world’s leaders.
As you probably remember Facebook was created as a small social network only for Harvard University students. After launching it became so popular that grew up to a worldwide probably the most popular social network ever.
You may have thought that there are only two options. Not true! Meet the third type of the apps, we call them Glocal.
What is a glocal app?
Glocal applications are the apps that are targeted on global marketplace however with local orientation. Here what it means, everyone everywhere can use this app but the information they get is related to their geoposition.
One of the brightest examples is LetGo app. The app is free and available in any country. But, a user sees only goods from sellers near him or her. Such apps very often are based on geofencing feature and show other users (or places) within some radius.
Another classical example is Tinder. Tinder offers you to rate candidates within a radius of 10 or 15 kilometers. If you travel you get other candidates to rate. Take a look at our detailed guide to developing an app like Tinder.
Such decision is a great alternative for e-commerce and local dating apps. But you are not limited and can use this idea to make your product global and local at the same time.
Sometimes it’s very difficult to make a decision. To put aside all hesitations target the audience for your product, think where these people live and if they need your product at all. This is the most important step. If your potential users live in different countries, then you should make a global app. If they are concentrated in one country or area - a local app. Glocal apps are a great option as well.
However, no matter what way you choose, make sure that your product is interesting and catching. In such case, your project will always be prosperous. Write us and let us make this app for you!
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