Whether it’s a book, a movie or a business brochure, translations can boost awareness and thereby increase the probability of sales too. One area where translation is proving particularly beneficial is in applications – or apps.

A recent survey by One Hour Translation revealed that more and more successful applications are being translated in order to increase their reach, popularity and sales. In fact, the company found that translating an app into one of the world’s more widely-spoken languages increases its sales and user numbers five-fold.

Interestingly, the majority of apps are written in English, even when the developer or team behind it do not speak the language as their mother tongue. The company looked at 150 different apps; 40 per cent of which were business orientated and 30 per cent of which were used for gaming. In providing translations for the Android applications market, the company revealed that the most popular non-English target language was Spanish, used in 50 per cent of translations. This was followed by Portuguese, Russian and Swedish.

The type of app itself may have driven which target language was selected in some cases. However, the greatest driving force was found to be the market the developer catered to. Some 40 per cent of the apps were translated to Brazilian-Portuguese or Spanish in order to localize them for the South American market. French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch and Russian were the most popular target languages selected by developers aiming at Europe, while those targeting Asia were most likely to select Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese and Hindi.

Yet the research revealed there remain markets that are not being targeted. For instance, the opportunity for potential sales or business among Arabic speakers is perceived as low among developers, so despite the market being large it remains generally untapped.

Typesetting is one of the big considerations for these languages. Arabic and Hebrew are read from right to left, which means the application must be adapted to take this into account. Such a complicated translation can dissuade businesses from making the investment. However, this is something they may wish to reconsider. Because the market is so infrequently targeted, developers could find they have little or no competition for business or sales should they enter it. This can give them a head start over their competitors and mean they secure customer loyalty, while others in their field are still weighing up the pros and cons of investing in a translation.

Technology translation is an often overlooked service, yet it requires a great deal of skill. In addition to the user instructions and in-game dialogue, a translator must focus on the shortcuts, legal issues, cultural references and music, and possibly even remap the gameplay.

Game translation is becoming increasingly popular as the internet means gamers are now able to find and play games originating from across the world. Indeed, in some cases fans have enjoyed foreign-language games so much they have banded together to urge the maker to release one in their mother tongue.

One such example is Mother 3; the third game in the EarthBound series. The game has only been released in Japan and the US branch of Nintendo appears to have no plans to translate it. However, it has amassed a cult following. As a result, a translation group made up of fans came together and has released a patch that allows the game to be followed in English.