October 25, 2010
Guest Post by Florian Gschwandtner, Developer/Founder of runtastic
When working on our app, runtastic (all-in-one exercise/sport assistant for runners, cyclists, walkers and outdoor sport acitivites), we ran into a common debate among aspiring app developers: although we built a great app useful to a large population, how would we market it to the world? Being the founders are all world travelers, we had no idea where to start. Do we go with the most universal language? Do we satisfy our home countries? Where will we see the most adoption? After asking ourselves these questions and doing research, we decided to start with German and English. Our thought was: start small, build a successful, well-executed app first, then leverage its success elsewhere. Living in Austria, we figured starting in German (the main language) made the most sense and we also knew we wanted to satisfy a large market therefore we went with an English version as well. We launched a paid and a Mobclix ad-supported version on the iPhone in November 2009 and we immediately had impressive download figures in both Austria and Germany, ranking #1 in the Health & Fitness category. Although we were happy with the results thus far, we had to scale and think of how we would build on the success.
As our app quickly grew in popularity we received numerous requests to create it in other languages. Was it time to expand to other languages and penetrate more of the international market? Honestly we thought twice before committing, although we knew it would lead to an increase in adoption and revenue it would also put a strain on us being that we were a start-up with limited resources. But finally, after careful research into new tools and the app user community we made the plunge and launched the translation into Spanish, French and Italian. The cornerstone to this initiative was using the web service getlocalization.com— a platform that allows you to translate applications to multiple languages using crowd sourcing. The huge benefit to using a platform like this is that it allows you to hear straight from your users and it’s FREE. But keep in mind, user generated content does have a higher risk of small mistakes. We have had to closely monitor to ensure all of the content we push is correct.
To any developer looking to localize, I would take two very careful steps: start small and build a successful well-executed app. Then, branch out using web communities and tools to limit development strain. The result for localizing the runtastic app in multiple countries was a huge payoff, the number of downloads increased by over 100% and we made it into the top 3 within the Health and Fitness categories in the respective countries.
Go to www.runtastic.com/apps to find out more about runtastic and to download the app.