iconwrite How ranking in Japan went from #170+ to #19 thanks to localization - Update: #1 actually

August 06, 2011, 16:38

This recent 2.10 update to my Battery HD app keeps shining every day under a new light. Ironically it has a pair of new bugs but that doesn't seem to affect it's success much. After massively increasing the number of reviews, today, I noticed a huge ranking increase in Japan. There is a general trend upwards but the spike is much bigger than in the other countries so far.

Just have a look at the graphic comparing rankings in Japan and France after the August release. Note that there is one curve for iPad and one for iPhone but they're moving together with this universal app.


Japan: a vast mystery for an European

I have always believed that the reason my apps fared way better in Europe than in the U.S. was simply because I didn't understand the American mind as well the one from the place I was born.

When it comes to Japan, this gets even worse. I know little about the culture and simply cannot understand one single character of the language. And let's not even get into the weird sexuality fantasies with octopodes. I feel I am losing focus here.

I had as usual used iCanLocalize to translate my app and description into Japanese. Unlike other languages I just cannot verify if the translation is any good. When I get paranoid I run the description through Google Translate just to make sure the translator didn't think it was wise to put some Hitler quotes in my app description. Apparently that wasn't the case.

Overall this has worked better than when the app wasn't translated at all. However it wasn't as high in the rankings as it did in european countries. Why? I just didn't know. I usually got very few reviews from Japan.

Getting the perfect title

The new app update includes my new about screen. Unlike the previous one, everything in this one is translated into Japanese. Previously it was a mixed bag. The sentence asking for reviews (with no links) was translated but links to my other apps were all still in English. Since this update came out I had two reviews in Japan. That's not much (one per day) but that's still better than the one review every two months I got before.

Also a friend of mine, Gilles, who happens to have lived in Japan for a while and married a native told me that the title for my app was not only outdated (it still had the initial name of "cute battery" from 2009) but it wasn't written the way a modern native japanese would (it used chinese characters). He was kind enough to provide a correct title.

Because the japanese translation was done quite a long time ago I don't really know who to blame for this title. There are several translators at iCanLocalize and I had switched the translators several times since the start of this project. Also I usually don't pay for review (which slightly increases the translation price but also the quality). Maybe for this language that I do not understand at all, I should have !

As the graphic above shows, the ranking in France which was already pretty high, didn't change much with the new update. In Japan the change was radical. Maybe it's because the full app is now translated, maybe it's just because the title is perfect. That would sort of prove the points made in a previous post on the importance of having a title that is understandable at first glance.

So if that's the case. Thank you, Gilles :-) or better said: ^_^

Update: Ok, then it's number ONE :-)

Let'ts forget about how happy I was to have reached #19 in utilities. Two days later my app is now at the top of the free ranking in Japan. I guess that only underlines my original point.

Final thoughts

The app is now solidly anchored at #1 rank in japan for the second day in a row. But the app is also back now in the UK and German overall top 50, and going up in rankings pretty much everywhere.

While having a correct title was surely what triggered a new spike I am now convinced that the continued success is due to the amazing number of reviews (obtained thanks to the technique explained here. At this point this new release has received over 754 reviews worldwide in a few days. A number so high that several negative reviews in Japan mention the unusual number of high reviews and believe this is hacking.

Of course, it's not. It's pure good old psychology at its best. I may take some time to write a post that describes more thoroughly what make this about screen so efficient in pushing users towards a review (and a good one!).

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