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Google Developers’ 5 Tips on Building for Emerging App Markets

google devs emerging market tips onesky

Which Markets Google Is Targeting Next and Why

The key theme for localization for I/O 2017 is building for emerging app markets around the world. These are places that might be fairly underdeveloped in infrastructure and connectivity. Think places like India, Brazil, and Indonesia.

This year’s Google I/O Developer Conference had many localization updates for building global apps in Android. (Click here for our full coverage of this year’s conference.)

So why’s Google focused on these emerging app markets? And why should you be interested as well?

Because they’re also extremely high-growth markets where new users are coming online eagerly, possibly for the first time, and in masses.

How Google’s Building for the Next Billion

build for your next billion google localization

Google is heavily invested in their “Next Billion Users” initiative—localizing their own products for these markets and helping Android developers do the same.

In this year’s “Build for Your Next Billion Users” session at I/O, a team of Google’s own developers and product managers share what they’ve learned about bringing Google products to emerging app markets.

The team’s insights and tactics include:

  • User data about specific markets
  • 3 key barriers in common with all emerging app markets to watch out for
  • 5 principles Google’s teams use to overcome these barriers

We found this session so useful and applicable for anyone launching in emerging app markets that we’ve summarized some of their main lessons here.

If you’re interested in learning more about the technical side of Android localization, be sure to check out our Localization Academy, which will guide you through the whole process of localizing either iOS and Android apps, with sample codes included. 

Now let’s dive in!

Remarkable User Growth: By the Numbers

Google Product Manager Tal Oppenheimer—who was part of an insightful session on Chrome’s developments for emerging app markets at last year’s I/O—opens the presentation with a deep dive into user growth from emerging app markets by the numbers.

By “taking a global look” at app markets, different trends start to emerge.

In 2014, China took the lead for number of total internet users at around 675 million. (The US had about half.) In 2015-16, the markets shift and different countries are “lighting up” the map, with India at 350 million in 2015. Last year, Brazil comes in at 139 million total users and Nigeria has about 87 million.

google localization emerging app markets total internet users 2016

The story becomes more interesting if you look at user growth for the same time period.

In 2014, there was minimal new user growth in the U.S. whereas China and India both saw major upticks. In 2015, India begins to emerge as the dominant growing market, which continues in 2016.

new internet users 2015

India alone saw 100 million new internet users—for both 2015 and 2016.

Two years running of the same rapid growth is impressive, and this rate won’t be winding down anytime soon: 65% of India’s population is still offline today. That’s 65% untapped market share. Various projects show that this country of 1.3 billion will see 1 billion mobile subscribers by 2020. In Brazil, too, 7 people are coming online for the first time every minute.

india 1 billion unique users expected in 2020 as emerging app markets

These trends present an opportunity for Google’s global product offerings. Engagement with certain of products are increasing in emerging app markets, with India, Brazil, and Indonesia ranking among top 10 countries with highest Google Search worldwide.

“It’s not just about where users are going to be,” Tal explains, “but where they are today.

3 Common Challenges Facing Emerging App Markets

As Mariya Moeva, Google Developer Programs Engineer describes, “these people [in emerging app markets] are going to be your future users.”

Although these markets vary drastically in culture, language, and GDP, the team at Google has found 3 barriers they have in common as tech users:

1. Wide Range of Devices

Many users in emerging app markets will use a second-hand device, which might not be up to standards of other markets. There are wide ranges of screen sizes, storage, and memory capability. (Mariya highlights that 33% of smartphone users in India run out of storage space every day.)

This is key when you’re thinking about testing your app on different devices and for thinking about size of required downloads (more on this later.)

2. Poor Connection Quality

Most users in emerging app markets are not connected all the time, and when they are, poor connection speed and stability are common. Case in point: half of users in India and 2/3 of users in Nigeria are still on 2G networks.

3. Very Expensive Data

Prepaid data plans are prevalent, with small packets of 5MB-10MB for sale at a high price point. Users in emerging app markets will use different tactics to budget their data.

This means thinking twice about the size of your app—even a “free” 40MB app download will cost users an average of USD $2 of data in India, so this is a major decision on the user’s part.

5 Principles Used By Google to Localize for Emerging App Markets

Facing these 3 challenges above, the teams at Google have come up with 5 principles to guide their localization efforts for these markets:

1. Remove Barriers to Your Product

remove barriers

“Before people even start interacting with your product,” says Mariya, “you need to remove the barriers for them to do so.”

The team at Google sees these 3 challenges as real obstacles to people even accessing their products, let alone in the app experience themselves. This means making sure your app is small enough for an affordable install.

Google’s Solution: Consider no install at all.

Google’s Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are responsive, light-weight apps that require no installs, have minimal download sizes, and can be accessible offline if the content is already preloaded. They combine the experience of a native app with web browser accessibility.

Twitter Lite, a PWA launched in April 2017 now receives ~1 million app launches every day in just a few months. It’s built specifically for emerging app markets, and Twitter has seen a 20% decrease in bounce rate since launch.

twitter lite pwa

2. Optimize for Speed

optimize for speed

As Mariya sums it up, “your load performance needs to be amazing.

These markets have low-quality connectivity, so faster speeds are low-hanging fruit. But making a faster experience overall might actually help you with the rest of your global expansion as well.

“You’re not special case-ing for a specific market when you make your product fast,” explains Mariya. “I have yet to hear anybody, anywhere on the planet, that is complaining that something is loading too fast. So if you make your stuff work for users in Indonesia on a 2G connection, your users in the US will also be super delighted.”

Google’s Solution: Prioritize faster loading and “page transcoding.” 

Mariya didn’t go into too much detail on Google’s page transcoding feature but judging from this page, it looks like an update on an experiment that goes back to 2010, where Google Search will automatically “rewrite” web pages to optimize for speed, keeping only the most relevant and important information on a page.

Kompas, one of India’s biggest newspapers, transcoded their page to consume 90% less, with optimized pages loading 5x faster.

kompas example

The result was a 50% increase in traffic. As Mariya puts it, “users perceive that everything loads much faster, they browse more. It’s a win-win for both sides.”

(Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages—AMPs—are another Android solution.)

3. Build for Intermittent Connectivity

build for intermittent connectivity

“Offline is a state in itself,” says Mariya. “We need to make sure that our stuff functions even when people are going in and out of connectivity.”

Not everyone in emerging app markets will have access to wifi—users will often go to public hotspots to download pages then spend the rest of their day offline.

We recommend enabling your app to work offline and/or be able to preload pages in advance.

Google’s Solution: Enable users to download when convenient.

We’ve probably all seen this cute dinosaur on Chrome at some point, right? When you’re trying to access a page or run a Google search while offline, you’ll be prompted (by the cute dino) to download the page later when you’re connected again.

offline page

4. Prioritize Multilingual UI

speak many languages

“In a lot of these countries, people use more than one language to accomplish their daily tasks,” explains Mariya. “They might do their homework in English, they might talk to their grandma in a different language, and they might use a completely different dialect at school.”

Prepare your UI to be translated well, and consider all unofficial and official languages that your users might want to use.

Companies like OneSky are the top choice for app localization by not only providing an end-to-end localization platform, but also giving you direct access to professional translators in over 50 languages that specialize in games and apps. Interested in knowing what languages are most popular? Contact for a free consultation on where your next markets are, and how our localization services will help get you there. 

Google’s Solution: Ensure their product speaks many languages.

The team at Google Search found that their users in India would search in English on Google, but through Hindi words, so they optimized their UI to show both English and Hindi results side by side, with the option to switch at the top of their search results. This resulted in a 50% increase in Hindi searches on mobile.


5. Guide New Users

guide new users

In these markets with emerging tech eco-systems, customer onboarding looks completely different than what we’re used to.

“A lot of these users are coming online in a completely different context,” Mariya points out. “So you shouldn’t expect that the product you have right now, with the UI and flow and the graphics, will fit their needs […]”

Specific functions that are part of our every day experiences might be completely foreign for a new user.

“A lot of [users] are coming online for the first time on their phone. They don’t have a lot of experience with desktop. A lot of them have never used email and they have different cultural expectations or color preferences.”

This is where localization—and making sure your app fits in with the local culture—plays an important part.

Google’s Solution: Dig deep into local user habits.

Google invests heavily in research on local trends and user culture to make sure they’re making products that can delight these new users. The Chrome default page, for example, is known for having a very simple UI—just a search box.

But the Chrome team found that some new users in different markets new to web browsing thought it was like “a big, vast, empty lobby” that was not welcoming and very cold.

What they wanted to see instead was to be surrounded by different options—so that’s exactly what the Chrome team did. They experimented with having favorite sites and articles related to what they’ve been searching, which felt more welcoming.

different home pages

Your App Should Be Global

Emerging app markets like India, ChinaBrazil, Nigeria, and Indonesia are experiencing major growth in new users. But they’re also facing very real challenges of early-stage tech infrastructure: poor internet connection, wide range of devices, and expensive data.

Hopefully these 5 principles that Google’s Dev teams use to localize their products for emerging app markets will help guide your strategy as well:

5 principles summary

Check out the full session here.

If you’re interested in the big picture of localization—from choosing the languages to marketing the finished product—download our step-by-step eBook, The Essential Guide to App Localization:

Download the eBook now!

About OneSky 

OneSky provides seamless end-to-end localization solutions for thousands of mobile apps, games, websites, and businesses worldwide. We offer professional translation services in 50+ languages and a translation management system (TMS) with API integrations and plugins to streamline your workflow. We hire and carefully screen our own translators to ensure the highest control over quality. Using OneSky’s powerful QA features, cross-functional teams collaborate efficiently to deliver faster release cycles and higher quality translations. See how you can go global at 

7 Facts You Should Know Before Marketing An App in Japan

7 Facts You Should Know Before Getting Into Japanese App Market

Did you know that Japan has the world’s most lucrative app markets? This isn’t exactly a surprise, since Japan is constantly one step ahead in the world of technology. Recent reports from App Annie and Distimo has shown that Japan has led the world both in app spending and in profit margins on mobile games since 2013. Naturally, many app developers are keeping an eye on the Japanese market, but Japan is not an easy place for foreign players to establish a new product.

Fortunately, we can help. Here are seven key facts you need to know if you’re wondering on how to market an app in the Japanese app market.

1. Japan tops App Spending Charts since 2013

The first lesson of bringing an app to Japan is that it can be very, very lucrative to do, especially since 2013, when smartphones in the country increased drastically from 28% to 42%. Plus, Japanese mobile users are accustomed to paying for digital content, so it was no surprise when total spending on smartphone apps skyrocketed.

Check out this chart (below) from App Annie, which shows how Japan produced almost $350 million of combined monthly app revenue across iOS and Google Play, surpassing revenue in the United States and pushing Japan to the top of the world app market.

2.  True Success = Highest Profit Margin

It’s not enough just to look at the revenue generated by a particular market. After all, for a business; what really matters is the profit margin. And in terms of profit, too, Japan seems to be topping the charts—at least according to a recent report from Distimo. With the world’s highest revenue per download and the world’s third-lowest cost per download, each app in the Japanese market will obtain on average, a profit margin of $4.48.

For foreign developers, those kinds of numbers are tempting. They’re also hard to achieve. In order to compete in the Japanese market, the main key is to analyze how domestic developers are managing costs and boosting demand for paid apps.

3. Five Key Domestic Players Sharing The Revenue Pie

With high revenue and high profit margins, Japan may seem like a developer’s dream. Still, it can be a difficult market to enter because just five major domestic players share a full two-thirds of the country’s app revenue. Equipped with strong local knowledge, extensive connections and a deep foothold in the app market, these major players make for some tough competitors. In order to thrive in Japan, it’s essential for app developers to consult with people, who know the country well. Japanese app developers, marketers, and localization experts can help you tailor your app to succeed in a competitive market.

4. Android or iOS? Neck-and-Neck Competition!

Good news for Android app developers: while iOS app revenue is still ahead of Google Play, the gap between the two platforms has closed quite a bit in Japan. However, with the largest mobile operator in Japan, DoCoMo, now offering iPhones, Apple’s smartphone market share reached 76% last year. Apple sales figures tripled Samsung in October 2013. For now, at least, iOS seems likely to have an edge on Google Play, but it’s a tough competition and maybe more so than any other markets.

5. Gaming as the Favorite App Genre

Are you trying to figure out what kind of app will be a hit in the Japanese market? One word: games. Puzzle & Dragons, a huge gaming hit in Japan, helped GungHo Online become the most profitable publisher of 2013 in Japan. Last year alone, the company reportedly earned $691 million through the iOS App Store and $820 million through the Google Play Store—altogether, more than $1 billion in revenue. GungHo’s success makes sense, because the company focuses on building games. And looking at the top 50 paid apps in Japan for both Google Play & iOS, over half of them belong to the gaming genre.

6. Japanese Language as the First Step in Localization

If you want to compete with the major domestic players in Japan, localization is essential. In particular, to develop a successful app for Japan, translation into Japanese is a must. Of the top 50 paid apps in Japan, 80% have developed a Japanese version to suit users better. Plague Inc. and Infinity Blade III are two examples of gaming apps that originated in the West and eventually came to top the charts—but only after finding localization experts to help translate and customize their app for the Japanese market.

7. Visual Items as another Key Concern

For western developers, localizing an app for East Asia involves far more than overcoming the language barrier. After all, the cultural gap isn’t just about words. Visual items in particular can work well in one market but fall flat, or even cause offense, somewhere else. David Ng, Chief Executive of the Singapore-based gaming company Gumi Asia Pte Ltd, shared his experiences in an interview with Global Post:

“In Puzzle Trooper, a game originally intended for western players, a character resembling the wrestler Hulk Hogan got some manga makeovers. When we started doing testing in Asia, we realized that they don’t really like the western art that much, then we tested with some more Japanese-looking art and the response was really good.”

Before settling on the details of your localization effort, it’s helpful to conduct focus-group research with Japanese app users, or to partner with a local design house. That way, you can figure out what parts of your app may or may not appeal to customers in this lucrative—and growing—market.

Learn More

Learn more about which app genres worldwide are localizing—and how your competitors are localizing—in our free data report:


Don’t miss out on localization resources and tips! Subscribe to our newsletter to learn the best ways to go global. 

Global App Store Optimization: High ROI Mobile App Marketing

A Guide to Global App Store Optimization

Many People Forget that App Stores Are Worldwide

When more than 60% of consumers find apps via app store search, high visibility in app store search results is a key to success.

While everybody knows about the importance of App Store Optimization (ASO), many developers neglect a simple fact — app stores are not only local but also global distribution channels. Right now, the two largest app stores in the world, the iTunes App Store and Google Play, are available in over 130 countries and support over 30 languages (Much to our excitement, OneSky just became a recognized 3rd party localization vendor by Apple). Imagine what would happen if your app ranked #1 in every single app store in the world. Irresistible, right? In this post, we’ll show you how to master the process of global app store optimization.

icons of world maps

Global ASO: Cheap and Fast, with a Huge ROI

Global app store optimization lets you connect with your international users, while optimizing your search results in app stores across the world. If regular ASO seems magical—after all, the benefits can be extraordinary—then global ASO is nothing short of miraculous: cheap, quick, and with a huge ROI. It offers you access to markets all over the planet.

Quick and Cheap

App descriptions tend to be short, and, because you don’t need to translate a lot of words, global ASO is pretty cheap. You can localize your app store product page for a few different languages without breaking your budget. Short descriptions also mean fast turnaround. Both crowdsourced and professional translation solutions should take less than a week to translate your app product page.

Huge ROI

A high return on investment for international ASO is just about guaranteed. Most of the world’s mobile users don’t speak English, and global app store optimization makes you visible to the crowd. Make App magazine recently found that keyword localization could increase the download of an app by 767%.

And, even if users do speak English as a second language, they’re likelier to read and respond to things written in their native tongue. A recent survey from Common Sense Advisory found that 72.4 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. Global ASO allows the awesomeness of your app to come across naturally and fluently in a multilingual market.

How Do You Get Global ASO Done Right?

In order to optimize your app for a global audience, you have to localize a few key elements of your app store product page.

Localizing Your App Title

Localize your app name if you think it’ll help users understand your app better (users might only see your app name instead of the whole app description in search results). However, some developers might prefer to keep the app name untranslated for branding issues. You can accompany your the name with a catchy, translated phrase that’s embedded with localized keywords. That way, searchers will know how great your app is from the very first look.

Localizing Keywords

Keywords are short, but they are critical to ASO, so you need to make sure that they are translated as accurately and strategically as possible. When it comes to keywords, be sure to hire reliable translators, and make sure that they have a good sense of your app. They’ll need some context in order to do the job right.

The best way to localize keywords is to make use of ASO analytics tools. These tools automatically suggest optimized keywords for your app. Fortunately, some ASO analytics platforms cover international data as well. Sensor Tower, for instance, is a company that offers ASO tools for iOS app developers. They also have tools for international keywords research. These tools allow you to keep track of which localized keywords your competitors are using, to optimize your keyword lists, and to check the difficulty of your localized keywords. For more information, check out this Sensor Tower blog post on global app store optimization.

Sensor tower logo

app data search traffic chart


Search Man is another ASO company that offers keyword suggestions for both iOS and Android app developers. Their market research tools contain app store data from the iTunes App Store and Google Play in the UK, US, and Japan.

A screenshot of Facebook app


Localizing Your App Description

Your app’s description plays a key role in ASO, because that’s where you’ll actually use the optimized keywords. The best way to localize your app description is to give the set of optimized keywords to your local copywriter or translator, who can then write an attractive app description in his or her native language.

If you’re using OneSky’s translation platform, you can make use of the “glossary” feature to assign keywords. You can define all your optimized keywords as glossary terms and explain the priority of these keywords. Check out this blog post to learn more about our glossary feature. A screenshot of OneSky's glossary

Which Languages Should I Start with?

After learning about global ASO, you’re probably wondering, “So where should I go first, China or Japan?” Instead of picking your target languages based on a gut feeling, we suggest that you try out two approaches to prioritizing your localization efforts.

Competitor Driven Approach: Sensor Tower Internationalization Scorecard

For iOS apps, you can use Sensor Tower’s internationalization tool to compare your progress in internationalization with your competitors. The list made by Sensor Tower shows whether an app’s description, title, language support, and keywords are localized in specific countries. You can compare your app’s internationalization with a specific app, a specific category, or all apps for a country. Sensor Tower also provides the distribution of the user bases in countries. You can compare your global efforts with other apps to see if your move into a new market has been successful. A screenshot of Sensor Tower, Angry Birds data

Cost-effectiveness Driven Approach: OneSky Localization Grader

Another approach to prioritizing localization is by cost-effectiveness—pay the least money to reach the markets with the greatest potential. For both iOS and Android apps, you can use our localization grader tool to calculate the cost-effectiveness of localization. This tool also assesses the localization progress of your app description.

A screenshot of OneSky localization scorecard of Angry Birds


We let you analyze the cost-effectiveness of localizing your app description by showing you both the cost of translation and the size of the potential user base. We group the countries in which iTunes App Store and Google Play are available into three tiers, based on 5 criteria – number of mobile users, download volume, tech-savviness, preference for local language and willingness to pay. Tier 1 countries are usually early adopters with mature markets, and they don’t require serious marketing efforts. Tier 2 countries are those with huge markets, such as the BRIC countries, that may require more marketing efforts to gain access. Localizing your app into Tier 3 countries implies that your localization is a full-fledged global effort.A screenshot of Onesky's localization scorecard


What It Means to Go Global

I hope you’ll keep exploring the magnificent potential of global app store optimization. The earlier you start to go global, the more successful your app will be. There’s also something deeply satisfying about expanding to new markets and coming into contact with brand new customer bases. Localization lets you become part of a culture of innovation and global connectedness that’s changing how the world works. Iris Shoor, established Autocad 360 and now a co-founder of Takipi, shares her excitement about app localization of Autocad 360, on TheNextWeb:

Some of the most exciting moments I experienced in my startup were interactions with users I never imagined I would be able to reach. Hearing about how my app is used to build a school in Honduras, preserve a historical site in Xian or redesign a village in Russia meant the world to me.

I think your app can do the same. Let’s change the world!

Other Resources about Global App Store Optimization

OneSky offers some other guides to app description translation in stores other than the iTunes App Store and Google Play. Check out these links for more info:

How to add localized app description to Google Play?

How to add localized app descriptions using iTunes Connect?

Reference: TheNextWeb, Sensor Tower Blog, MobileDevHQ Blog, Mobithinking

Feature Photo Credit: PhotoAtelier

China is the Fastest Growing iOS & Android Market


According to a report released by Flurry, between October 2011 and October 2012, China experienced an impressive 293% growth in number of active devices in the country, making it the fastest growing iOS and Android market by active devices.

Flurry predicted that with this impressive growth, China will overtake the U.S. by the end of 2013 Q1 to become the top country with the greatest number of active iOs and Android devices.


China - The fastest growing iOS & Android market by active devices



According to the Oct 2012 figures, although the U.S. is still the top country with the greatest number of active iOS and Android devices with a total of 181 millions of active iOS and Android devices. China is just 14 millions behind and the gap will soon be closed with the impressive growth of active devices in China.

In fact, while there has been 55 millions net active devices added in the U.S. since October 2011, there has been 125 millions net active devices added in China for the same period.


Want to get a share of the thriving market in China?
Localization your app is the key to success!

As mentioned in our previous blog post, users in China demonstrate  a very strong preference for local language (Simplified Chinese). According to the statistics by released by Distimo, nearly 70% of all free downloads and closed to 80% of all revenues generated in China are from apps that offer local language support.


Therefore, localizing your apps into Simplified Chinese is a key to success if you want to get a share of the booming app market in China.

Translating your apps can be easy with OneSky, see how.



Track Competitors & Your App Localization Stats


Want to capture the booming global apps market, but don’t know which languages to start with first? Want to know what languages your competitors have translated into as a benchmark? Check out OneSky’s free Localization Scorecard for Mobile Apps.

Just type in your app store link (or your competitor’s app store link!), and the tool will return a report detailing what languages that app has translated into with suggestions on what languages to target next. It works for both iOS and Android apps.

To see how the Localization Scorecard works, take the iOS version of the famous app Instagram as an example. Just type in the app store link of Instagram and a report detailing the localization effort of Instagram will be delivered to your mailbox. As you can see from the report, Instagram has localized their iTunes description into 11 languages, including popular languages like Simplified Chinese, Japanese, German, Korean, Italian and Portuguese, etc.

screenshot of onesky localization scorecard of instagram



Don’t forget to translate your app description if you’ve translated your in-app strings!

On the scorecard for Instagram, you can see that some languages are marked with a little red exclamation mark. These are actually the languages that the app has translated its in-app strings (i.e. the user interface) but not the app description.

For example, Instagram has indicated on iTunes that their app is available in French, but the app description for the App Store in France is still in English!

screenshot of current localization progress

The app description is even more important to translate because it’s how people can search for and read about your app before they decide whether to download it or not. Not having a localized app description could mislead users that you have not translated the app itself yet. And some users might simply can’t understand your app description and thus wouldn’t download your app.


Order professional translation service for your apps easily

Other than simply providing statistics, the Localization Scorecard also allows developers to order professional human translation service easily.



screenshot of onesky localization platform


For app descriptions, the scorecard can automatically pull out the text from iTunes / Google Play once you input the app store link, so you just have to pick the languages and you’re good to go. For translating in-app strings, simply upload your .strings / .xml files and OneSky system can automatically extract the text to be translated. When the translation is completed, it’d come back in ready-to-use resource file formats with all the placeholders validated.

Other than supporting the direct uploading and downloading of resource files, OneSky platform also offers lots of features that are tailor made for mobile apps translation. For example, developers have the option to create a list of glossary terms to ensure consistency and they can also attach screenshots to the phrases to let translators understand the context better. There are also cost saving features such as translation memory and auto-detection of duplicate phrases. Learn more