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7 tips for app localization for the Chinese market

App localization Chinese




China has thousands' years of tradition and culture. Today, however, the land of civilization has long since entered the modern age - this is demonstrated by the high growth of smartphone users. For app developers, this creates a whole new, interesting and, above all, lucrative market. The localization for China, however, is not entirely without obstacles. The following seven tips should therefore be taken into consideration before entering the market.

The development of so-called apps, that is, small programs that optimized and customized for mobile use, is a global billion-dollar business:

  • In 2011, sales were still at 8.32 billion US dollars.

  • In 2013, the industry was already worth 26.68 billion US dollars.

  • Experts believe that sales will grow to around 77 billion US dollars by 2017.


The reason for this rapid rise is seen by economists, among other things, in the willingness to spend money on apps (and generally on the Internet) - but the most important is the rapidly growing number of smartphone users, especially in China. In 2013, the market penetration here is already 47 percent, according to the study "Our mobile planet" 62 percent of Chinese use apps daily.

7 tips on the successful app launch in China

For app developers, China is therefore a lucrative option. However, small applications need to be localized for the Chinese market and users. Due to the great differences, however, this can quickly become an insuperable obstacle, because there's not only cultural or legal conditions to be observed here - in China even the Appstore system is completely different. The following seven tips are therefore essential for the app launch in China.

Tip # 1: More than just translating

The successful launch of the app in China requires much more than the simple translation of the texts. Above all, the blocking of some "parts" of the Internet, especially of social networks, makes the market entry more difficult. For this reason, the market alternatives (in the case of social networks, for example Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo instead of Facebook and Twitter) must be recognized or used.

Tip # 2: Cloud-based apps need a local partner

The cloud is also not usable in China due to the extensive firewall, which makes incoming foreign connections more difficult. In order to outsource data, collaboration with a local server company is therefore necessary.

Tip # 3: China's government charges fees for selling apps

If you sell your apps via the appstore in China, a fee of 30 percent will be charged to the sales platform. In addition, a fee of 20 percent is estimated by the Chinese government for foreign companies. However, if you hire and distribute the app through a local partner, you can at least avoid the additional 20 percent charges.

Tip # 4: Adjust payment methods to the Chinese market

Credit card payments are a common form of payment in the Internet in Europe and North America. In China, however, only a few people possess and use the comfortable plastic cards. The purchase of apps and in-app functions should therefore be possible via alternative payment methods.

Particularly popular here are Alipay or direct billing via the mobile phone provider. In order to involve these services, discussions with the providers are necessary. However, since they rarely speak English, a professional Chinese translator is as important as any other step. After all, sales is the key factor here.

Tip # 5: Decentralized appstores require rethinking

If all steps have been implemented, the app will be uploaded to the store. However, developers from abroad will now notice the biggest difference in the appstore system in China: While the appstores are uniform in Europe and only differ between the operating systems, there are a number of different platforms in China , sorted according to different aspects, for example :

  • Demographic factors, such as region or even city

  • Target groups, such as pupils / students or office staff


The "right" store is therefore dependent on the functionality and target group of the ap. Also new market participants should know the access numbers of the respective store, in order to boost the sale of the app.

Tip # 6: Follow strict laws and guidelines

The amount of different appstores also makes concurrent setting on multiple platforms difficult. Because not only the general legal situation is strict in China - each Appstore has its own guidelines and terms, which must be strictly adhered to in order to enable the sale of the app in China .

Tip # 7: "Copycats" take the wind out of the sails

Imitators and copied apps are unfortunately a big problem in China. So if you are planning to enter the market with your own application, you should find out if the idea has already been copied, which is not unlikely, as Chinese economists point out. Here, too, cooperation with a local partner, who is familiar with the market and who can identify the "copycats", can take appropriate measures that ban the imitator apps from the appstores.

China's market for smartphone apps is not easy to enter, because its design and support are quite different from what it is in Europe and North America. Cooperation with local partners and professional Chinese translators is indispensable for getting started. Only in this way will the app be perfectly localized and tuned to the Chinese consumers to generate the hoped for sales.


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