Developing for Android? You need to look to the bigger picture - actually this applies to anyone developing apps for mobile phones. If you want your app to be used by people that don’t speak English you need to translate it and provide some support.

There are going to be many opportunities for startups and anyone with a business model to go ‘international’ or expand abroad should check these points are covered in the marketing and product development plans.

1. Copy and clone - build the local version that’s more popular than its bigger brother (defensive/beachhead)

This has worked well for some social networks and there are countries where the local version is more successful than its international version. A business model based on a copycat strategy needs to launch, grow and keep its users interested. One quick way is to make sure the website / app is still usable for people living abroad like the Americans in London or English living in Spain.

2. Copy the idea - but make it your own

There are lots of good apps out there dying to be copied - using local data information. If you business model involves global domination you need local datasources.

A wine guide app using content from an American website may have some relevance in the English speaking world, but it won’t help when choosing a wine - a simple example: Does a $20 wine equal a £10 wine?

3. Translation is just the first step think customer support

Translating your app or website is usually the first way to go international - but make sure the plan includes how to support your local users.

For example FAQ’s is simplified as SSS in Turkish

4. Remember to localise the user experience

It’s really upsetting to find out the user experience looks really crap when you change from English to Spanish, Italian or any other language.

5. Don’t expand abroad

The problem with the Internet, App Stores and mobile phones is that their users don’t respect territories for licences and agreements. So don’t go international if you are not prepared. You may also find your app is reliant on a social community that doesn’t exist. Check that you understand the take up of broadband, internet, 3G and mobile data services.

I’ll finish with this point - What’s the fun of finding out you can be the Mayor of all the places in a town if you’re the only one using location based apps? or more relevant - don’t go international and find out you don’t have a dataset.

Tags: Android, apps, international, iphone, startups

Read more from my blog for an introduction and quick tips on developing in Hugo or UCTD.

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Damien Saunders
An experienced management consultant and business leader interested in digital transformation, product centred design and scaled agile. If I'm not writing about living with UCTD (an autoimmune disease), I'm probably listening to music, reading a book or learning more about wine.
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