• Localizing your app to new language markets is similar to creating a new product in one aspect: there is a big uncertainty whether the newly targeted users will like it or not. If you do not localize you may lose big market potential. If you localize blindly you may waste your time and money, but conducting a professional market survey is much more expensive than an app developer can afford.

    How to minimize all these risks? Lean Manufacturing and Lean Startup principles have the answer:

    “Lean thinking defines value as providing benefit to the customer; anything else is waste” [i]

    How to apply this principle to app localization to create value and avoid waste? The whole process must rely on real customer involvement.

    To ensure this, the first step is to collect end-users requests and to act based on them:

    • Smartphone users indicate which apps they want in their native language. They can build a wish list from any app installed on their devices or from Google Play listings with the share function.
    • Developers are notified so they can size the localization opportunity.

    Lean principles imply continuous customer interactions. To best facilitate it in app localization, some enabling technology is required.

    • Developers integrate the enabler into their apps.
    • Once the integration and testing finished, developers publish the apps on Google Play

    Now the app is ready to be translated to any language.

    • In lean localization the translation phase is served the best by progressive translation
      • It is machine aided community translation with professional review
      • The translator community consists of real users
      • The whole translation takes place on their smart devices
    • It may happen that the translation slows down or halts indicating that the customer need was not strong enough on that market. Not good news but the cost is marginal.

    Once the translation of your app to a given language is ready:

    • It becomes available to all end-users. They can download it with one click
    • The same technology that allowed on-device translation facilitates dynamic distribution of localized resources.

    Lean localization relies on real customer need to avoid risk and waste. The underlying technology allows the strongest user feedback: users participate in the product manufacturing.

    Furthermore, the dynamic distribution technology completely separates the localization work from the software development process, ensuring streamlined change management and lets developers focus on their core business.


    For those who are familiar with Lean Startup:

    Your app in English is the Minimum Viable Product to measure the customer need on other language markets.

    End-user requests mean a hypothesis that your app will sell well on that market.

    The community localization is the validation itself. If it halts at a certain point the hypothesis was wrong for that language but the total spending on this learning was close to 0.

    If the localization has finished then the hypothesis is validated to be good. And together with this good news you have the ready product that matches the customer need and sells immediately.

    Try it yourself how it works - download our demo application:


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    [i] Ries, Eric (2011-09-13). The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (p. 48). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.