Tips for localizing and monetizing your app for Windows Phone users

When we create apps, we start by defining the goals of the project. If one of the primary goals is revenue, then more work is required to optimize the app so that it can reach the largest number of users and generate more downloads, use, and sales.

Today, I want to share info about the Windows Phone installed base to help you make the best possible decisions about markets, language support, localization, and OS support.

Markets

I publish my apps in as many of the 191 Windows Phone markets as possible while focusing my optimization efforts on the markets with the greatest potential.

So far during calendar year 2013, the Windows Phone Store has seen the largest number of app downloads in China, Latin America, United States, and Canada, as well as several European markets.

Number of app downloads per market, CY2013

image

What should you do to optimize your app for the biggest opportunities?

  • Publish your app in all the countries possible through Dev Center (see below).
  • Support several languages and locales – read these blog posts to learn more (part 1, and part 2).
  • Add translated metadata, language-specific screenshots, and a locally correct app name.
  • If applicable, add locally relevant content – local maps, expressions, news, and symbols.
  • Test to ensure non-Roman characters render correctly, validate that collation and sorting work correctly, and confirm that numbers are displayed correctly in your app.

How to publish (or cross-submit) your app to more markets?

  1. Open Dev Center.
  2. Click the Dashboard tab and then click Apps.
    image
  3. Edit the app and add more countries/regions.
    image
    Then…
    image
  4. To finish, click Review and submit.
    image


OS version

In Windows Phone 8 we added capabilities that enable richer user experiences and potential for higher app revenue not available on Windows Phone 7. These include:

Already in May 2013, half of the total app downloads were from Windows Phone 8 users and we expect Windows Phone 8 to continue to increase its installed base share, driven by the introduction of new Windows Phone 8 device models like the budget-friendly Nokia Lumia 520/521.

This growth has driven a rapid increase in apps that offer a version optimized for Windows Phone 8 through multiple XAP submissions.

Languages

I want to reach as many users as possible with my apps, and language is a key driver of downloads and adoption. As you evaluate which languages to support in your apps, you can extend the reach of your existing apps by adding support for more languages.

In addition to English, the other top languages used by Windows Phone customers are Mandarin, Spanish, and Russian.

Example:

Offering your app in English only, for example, covers only 25% of Windows Phone users. Adding Mandarin and Spanish increases coverage to ~60%, and adding Russian, Italian, Portuguese, and French covers the large majority of all Windows Phone users.

Top primary user languages for app downloads in CY2013

image

Monetization opportunity: diverse phones, new payment partners

If you want to reach Windows Phone 7 users, your app should run on 256-MB memory (RAM): low-memory devices tend to be more budget friendly and as a result have higher sales. In fact, based on our internal analysis, half the Windows Phone 7 downloads in 2013 have been on phones with 256-MB memory. Test your apps with the Visual Studio low-memory emulator, and if possible test it on real phones to confirm that the app works correctly.

Offer paid apps and add in-app purchase in markets with mobile operator billing: users purchase on average 3 times more apps when mobile operator billing is available compared to the purchases in markets where only credit card is supported. Windows Phone Store added 15 new mobile operator billing partners since August 2012, bringing the total to 29 in 20 markets, surpassing Google Play. Customers have an easier way to purchase apps in markets such as Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, South Korea, UK, and many others. See the full list here.

Next steps

To have the greatest potential for downloads and revenue, ensure that your app:

  • Is published (cross submitted) to as many markets as possible.
  • Supports the languages and locales to reach as broad an audience as possible, at a minimum English, Mandarin, and Spanish.
  • Runs on Windows Phone 7 and has a version optimized for Windows Phone 8.
  • Works with 256-MB memory (RAM) if the app is targeting Windows Phone 7 users.

I hope this information will help you make better app optimization decisions. Please share your questions or comments.