If you're an app developer, you may want to seriously consider localizing all your apps to the Japanese market. That's because Japanese customers now outspend US customers when it comes to paid-for apps. The news comes from the latest market report from AppAnnie. Some highlights:
1. The Only Major Country Where Google Play Vies With iOS on Equal Revenue Terms
Japan bucks the platform revenue trend seen in most countries as far as platform revenue is concerned. In the last year, Google Play app revenue has caught up with iOS in Japan, compared to the rest of the world, where iOS app revenue is well over double that of Google Play on an aggregate basis.
2. Sheer Majority of Game Revenue Growth Driven by Just Five Publishers
It's an astounding fact, but the game revenue growth that has catapulted Japan to the number one spot has been mostly driven by just five publishers. One of them is the messaging powerhouse LINE; one of them is Puzzle & Dragons maker GungHo Online.
3. The Growth Isn't Over
If 2013 was the year where Japan's smartphone penetration caught up with the US, 2014 will be the year where it completely obliterates things. By next year, 62 percent of mobile phones in Japan will be smartphones (compared to 50 percent in the US) according to eMarketer. The impact this will have on app downloads and revenue is a mouth-watering prospect for businesses invested in that region of the world.
Note that Japan hasn't become the download king for apps -- America still holds that crown. But Japan now holds the biggest slice of the revenue pie. Because of the cultural and language differences, localizing your app for the Japanese market is a little more difficult for many than localizing it for other Western markets. However, if app revenues in Japan continue to climb, as the report suggests they will, it's worth taking the time to do it, or to pay a localization service who can do it for you.