This article, written by Jon Ritzdorf, was originally published in Wireless Dealer Magazine in December, 2012.
Are you looking to expand your sales internationally? If so, you’re smart to capitalize on a trend in the wireless industry that is picking up momentum on every continent and with each passing day – the dramatic rise in smartphone sales worldwide. Smartphones, along with tablets, are being adopted 10 times faster than PCs were in the 1980s. For companies interested in catering to a global mobile clientele, the main challenge is determining exactly where to focus expansion efforts.
What follows are our predictions for the four fastest growing international smartphone markets in 2013 and five tips for translating your brand presence with these locales in mind.
Four Lucrative Destinations for Your Expansion Efforts
China will account for nearly a quarter of the world’s smartphones by 2016, estimates Canalys. Research from IDC shows that China counted 26.5% of all smartphone shipments in 2012 alone.And from July 2011 to July 2012, China lead the world with an astounding 401% year-over- year growth, showing adoption by the country’s rapidly growing middle class as well as increased penetration in tier 2 cities. Models under US $200 will represent more than 40% of the market by 2015, up from just over 25% in 2012. While local brands outpaced international vendors, those who have worked with domestic partners and demonstrated an understanding of local consumer behavior have fared very well. Android is a major driver of growth in China, running on 81% of the smartphones shipped in Q2 2012 alone.
Currently, smartphone penetration in India is the lowest in Asia-Pacific. This is a market with incredible, untapped growth potential. IDC predicts that smartphones priced around US $100 with local apps and dual-SIM capability are the key for bringing this market to life, along with the popularization of 3G (and later 4G), which is currently too expensive for most of India’s consumers. Still, India has over 930 million mobile subscribers already, and more affordable data plans and expanded offerings in tier 2 and tier 3 cities indicate this number will just keep growing, climbing to 8.5% of the world’s market share by 2016.
The UK will continue to rank among the fastest growing smartphone markets in Western Europe. It has the third greatest number (31 million) of active Android and iOS devices in the world, coming in just behind the U.S. and China. The upcoming launch of LTE will be a driving force for sales as people upgrade their smartphones to take advantage of the faster network. Given the UK’s projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5% from 2011 to 2016, smartphone vendors looking to expand into another English-speaking locale will find this market well worth the investment. It’s an easy leap for American companies interesting in establishing a foothold in Europe before investing in full-scale translation efforts.
According to Flurry, four of the ten fastest growing smartphone markets are currently in Latin America, boasting some impressive growth rates: Chile (279%), Brazil (220%), Argentina (217%) and Mexico (193%). The compound annual growth rate from 2011 to 2016 for the region is 27.3%, with Brazil and Mexico alone accounting for more than half of all smartphone shipments. Strategic investments by mobile operators, smartphone vendors and regulators will be bolstering factors for Brazil in particular, a country which will detain 4.4% of the world’s market share by 2016. More Latin Americans are using smartphones to access the internet than computers, making these countries particularly attractive for mobile retail sites, app developers and smartphone retailers.
Five Translation Tips for Your New Markets
Do you think that one or more of these hot markets will be a good fit for your expanding business? Translating your website, mobile website, eCommerce portal or mobile application is your next step as you expand your target audience to include millions of multilingual customers across Latin America, Asia and Europe The following five tips will make the transition smoother, no matter your destination:
1. Start with a translation-friendly UI. User Interface (UI) design is the make or break point for mobile apps and websites. Larger buttons with global-friendly icons make it simple for your customers to view your products, scoring you higher ratings in app marketplaces. With your apps and websites, be aware of the cultural signification of colors and symbols; purple represents mourning and death in Brazil and India, but is associated with luxury in most western countries.
2. Know your target devices. For mobile websites and apps targeting specific regions, it’s a good idea to design your interface with the most popular devices in mind, especially when it comes to graphics. Given the variations in screen size, resolution and processing power, this initial research will guide several of your design decisions.
3. Anticipate textual changes. For all your translations – from marketing materials, to apps to websites – when translating from English to most languages, including Spanish and Portuguese, content often expands between 15% and 30%, so program in extra buffer space and adjust content when necessary. The reverse is true for Mandarin, however, where you’ll need to bump up text size a few points for it to be legible.
4. Test, test, test. If you plan to promote yourself heavily usingmobile devices, device-specific emulators are an accessible, cost-effective option for testing your localized sites and apps, even if the ideal scenario is always to in-country test on the specific device hooked up to each individual carrier. Don’t forget to test both landscape and portrait display modes for each target device and language, or you may overlook some major bugs.
5. Market yourself. If you’re launching an app, help local customers find you by adapting your iTunes or Google Play app descriptions and optimizing them for search via localized keywords. If you’re developing an international mobile site, you’ll want to consider how local-language search engine marketing and mobile ad campaigns can boost your site traffic and get customers shopping. And don’t forget about translating your search engine marketing campaigns as well. Natural search, pay-per-click, banner ad campaigns should all be included in your translation strategy.