I write utility programs (converters, compression tools, etc.) with simple UI’s, which I put for sale of for free download on the Mac App Store.

I write these programs in English, and usually add a French localization (which I do myself). By comparing the distribution of sales per country between a localized app and nonlocalized one, I can estimate how much the French localization boosts my sales. (The apps themselves are pretty generic and not country-specific, which makes the comparison possible.) For example, on nonlocalized app A, my sales in France are 2.5% of all sales, while on localized app B, sales in France amount to 10%. This means localization increased my overall revenue by 8.4%.[1]

My question is: does someone have an estimate of how much localization is worth for each language? (according to this metric, i.e. potential added revenue) This would be a great help to prioritize new localizations (which I cannot do myself).

[1] And not, that's not 8.5%.


2 Answers 2


There is a similiar question here.

If your applications are small utility apps as you mention, with a simple UI, then they sound to me to be an ideal candidate for machine translation, even using Google Translate or Microsoft Translator - both provide API's to access these services, although Google will discontinue this at the end of 2011.

You have the distinct advantage in that you have complete control over your application, including the English strings. Investigate using Controlled English - this will improve the quality of your machine translated applications.

For the applications you release where you have used MT, you may want to add a disclaimer, or even allow native speakers to suggest better translations for what they deem to be bad translations. Lots have companies have used this as a successful model.

The advantage of this is that your localization costs will be zero. As long as the translations are of a good enough standard, the quality of your applications will not be affected.

Try this out on a subset of languages, or even one, and get the translation quality reviewed by some native speakers you know, or on some translation crowdsourcing website. This should give you a good idea of wheather or not this approach will work for you.


Haha, good question! It's hard to estimate a percentage for each language, but you can think about apps with similar subjects with yours and look for charts about how it was received in each country. And about localizing apps efficiently, I want to suggest a tool I use, http://poeditor.com/. It has translation memory, which helps a lot when you have many projects, and lots of other features.

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