What does a localized app mean?

To decide what type of app local or global you want to build, we need to understand what both mean. Local app is an application that provides some community specific needs. It’s an app that was designed to develop some specific purposes of people that live in a particular country or area. For people from other countries, such apps can be not even uninteresting but pointless.

Global app is an app that covers a large territory and has no limits for downloads. Usually, such applications are not tied to any country or nationality.

Best local apps examples

We all know the names of the most popular worldwide applications that are famous and recognizable all over the globe. Apps like Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Tinder or Periscope probably need no special introduction. However, there are lots of apps that gained huge popularity in a particular country or area. Let’s take a look at them and the stories behind their success.


Taobao is an e-commerce app that works similarly to E-bay or Wish apps. The project was developed by Alibaba group in 2003. It has a C2C business model (customer to customer) and gives small business and retailers an opportunity to work on Chinese online shopping market. The app had more than 370 mln users in 2010.

examples of localization app Taobao

Taobao website screenshot

There are two ways how sellers can make a deal. They can announce a fixed price on some goods or to auction. Each customer can rate a seller, comment his work or complain in a case of indecent treatment.

Now, the app and site work all over the world. Nevertheless, China and Chinese speaking countries are still the main customers here.

Teen Patti

Teen Patti is a gambling card game, developed specifically for the Indian audience. Why? Because it’s a traditional game for Indian people which they can play now in a mobile app and on the site. The game itself is a simplified version of poker.

how to localize android app teen patti

Teen Patti app screenshot

For many years there were no games specially designed for the Indian market. People tend to adopted western trends instead of creating something for themselves. To tell the truth, for a long time there was no such need as only a few people had smartphones at that times. However, it has changed and as we all know, if there is a demand there will be an offer.

Pandora Radio

The story of Pandora Radio app creation is amazing. It all started many years ago when a group of enthusiasts decided to process songs in a very unusual way. They hired professional musicians who defined 400 characteristics of each song and put all this data into a database. The project changed its purpose many times. What we have now is a music app which memorizes your preferences and offers you the songs with a strong likelihood that you will enjoy them even if you haven’t heard them yet.

internationalization vs localization Pandora radio

Pandora Radio app screenshots

The app is available only if you live in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The reason of such limited geography is music licensing. However, we hope that it will change soon and the app will be available all over the world.


One more extra popular local app is TransitTimes+. It’s an app that works in Australia. It shows all the public transport facilities in Australia making locals’ lives easier. You can not download the app unless you are in the country. Which is rather sensible because why would you want to know what time the train from Lynbrook to Endeavour Hills lives (if there is such) if you are not in Melbourne.

how to localize an app TransitTimes+

TransitTimes + app screenshots

There are lots of apps of this type. All of them became ultra popular for good reason. Many of them plan to expand their geography and become global and something tells me that they will manage to do it. Yet, without a small start in a limited area, it would be impossible to do.

It is a very typical question to a developer or a product owner whether it is better to create a local or global application. There is no right or wrong answer. Yet, we’d like to explain why with some apps it is better to start local and when it is better to introduce your app to the whole world.

Globalization vs Localization

Let’s look closer at the cases when small application localization is not a fault but an asset.

Globalization vs Localization

When local app development is preferable

Strong national idea

If your app just like Teen Patti has a very nationalized idea or connected with a tradition or custom then it is better to make it local. It doesn’t mean that people in other countries will not be interested in your app at all. However, it is better not to rely on this audience from the very beginning.

You already have a small local business

If you are an owner of a cafe or a restaurant (only in one country) and you’ve decided to develop an app for iOS or Android you probably understand that people (at least not many of them) from other countries will book a table or order food with delivery from your place. The same with a taxi, delivery services, and other services on demand.

Apps for specific spots

What we mean here is that you’re developing an app that has to solve issues of a particular place. For instance, it can be a parking application, apps for airports and other places tied to a specific geoposition.

Event apps and city guides

Such applications have bright future. However, it is better to start with limited area. Only when your product becomes popular you can go further and expand your business.

In-house apps

Applications developed specifically for one company are rarely global. Mostly because there is no such need.

If any of mentioned above cases describe your future project then you need to apply an app localization strategy.