At 8 o’clock in the morning on October 30th, 2009 (read: 5pm tonight, Pacific Apple Time) , the doors of China Unicom’s retail stores opened to the Chinese populate and offered 5 Million new iPhones into the global marketplace. While the launch got mixed reviews, amongst concerns of the disabled Wi-Fi features, a hefty price tag and the fact that rabid iPhone fans already were probably using one of the two million gray market iPhone in the country, the fact remains – the largest wireless market in the world now has open access to the iPhone.
So what does this mean for app developers? While many developers have always traditionally focused on the US as the only major iPhone market that matters, and with that English as the only major language – a major non-English speaking country poses an entirely new set of challenges.
I’ve already seen a number of sites pop up that would be happy to do a direct translation of your app. I’m sure many of them are quality sites with quality native translators. Make sure you do your homework however – a second rate translation can be spotted by a native speaker of any language a mile away. (Anyone else remember the English to Spanish translation of “Got Milk” that led to billboards that screamed out “Are You Lactating?”). Never try to use a free online translation program to perform your app translations. While they may work for single words, they are not designed to be able to properly navigate grammatical structure.
Translation of your app however, is only the first step. You must also translate your app description page (often providing it in two languages can be benifical) and app name. A potential client last week contacted me from Russia with a checkers based game app that use the Russian work for checkers as part of its title. I see where they are going with this – but the reality is, I would never be able to spell it if I was searching for it.
Oh yes – let us not forget search.
Search is one of the most important functions to getting your application found. Your keywords are of utmost importance to how your app fares in any of the app stores around the world. Unfortunately, doing well in search in other countries is not as easy as taking your English keywords and translating them to another language. Search is about understanding how someone in that country will think – and in understanding how they think, also understanding how they navigate to find a product. What makes a perfectly logical search string for you may not make any sense when translated, and as we know – the app store only recognizes direct keyword matches.
Every market is different, and every country has different needs. Did you know that in China there will be not one, but two app stores? Yup – the one from Apple and the one operated by China Unicom. Did you know that writing in red lettering indicates the writer will die soon? That three (and multiples of three) are considered lucky numbers, but four signifies death? (4! sorry… had to do it). Oh yeah, and white, blue, black, storks, cranes, clocks and handkerchiefs also are associated with death. (Are you dizzy yet?)
Promotion in China will be its own hurdle. PR is handled differently, as are blogs. There are new forums to reach out to as well. Are you ready?
All this to say that Appency is happy to announce we have a partnership on the ground in China and will be happy to assist in your localization into this new market with all of the above. The time is ripe – before the app store gets too crowded – to make your mark in the Far East!
How long have you been sitting in front of the computer developing the next killer iPhone app? 50 hours? 100 hours? More? How much money have you put into becoming a registered developer, paying artists, hardware, software, and training? The day has finally come to submit your hopes and dreams to the whims of the Apple approval team and hope that you don't get that fateful rejection email in your in-box. But… did you forget something?
In order for your app to succeed, you need a strategic approach to marketing it. With almost 100,000 active apps in iTunes, the likelihood of your app being "discovered" and succeeding on its own gets harder every day.
I don't know how many times I've heard a developer say, "That's okay though… I'll get to the marketing thing once the app gets approved and goes live". By waiting until an app goes live, the developer looses a number of significant marketing opportunities right off the bat.
To start, one of the most important components of your marketing, Search Engine Optimization, can ONLY be performed before your app has been submitted, or when uploading a new binary. Too many developers we have worked with didn't realize this, threw a couple of keywords into the keywords field and figured they would come back to it later… they simply wanted to see their app in the store. We even read a story of one developer that simply didn't use keywords because they were worried the wrong keywords would get them a rejection and their application was Halloween themed meaning a delay would render their app useless. Unfortunately.. having no keywords will render your application practically useless as well.
There is also a period of a few days at most where your natural browsing will be higher. The default browsing of iTunes is by "Release Date" – giving you first page visibility when a consumer wanders into your category. Depending on the category, you might be on the first page of this listing for close to a week! This is a great time to take advantage of the boosted sales and use a blitz marketing campaign to drive yourself into the higher rankings – shooting to either get in the top 100 listing, or get noticed by Apple and featured.
Social media is another tactic that requires some pre-planning. Most social media tactics rely on "followers" of your content. If you have not started building a following before you launch.. you are already missing out!
Finally your PR buzz is much more effective if its about a "new" product. Reporters are less likely to cover a story about something that has been sitting available for a while unless there is something new and unique about it. "Company X releases a new app that is the first to do Y" is much more of a story than "App Z is still in the App Store and still not doing that well even though its a good concept.."
Already launched? Its not optimal… but its not too late either. Drop us an email and we will be glad to take a look at how your app is being marketed.