In the US and Canada, we are used to seeing curated apps come up when we open any category on desktop iTunes or on the iOS App Store. But this isn't the case in other countries.
For example, Apple only used to curate apps in the games, kids, education, food and Newsstand categories in Europe. As of this month however, the editorial team is now recommending iOS apps in the productivity, photo & video, sport, music, lifestyle, health and travel categories, bringing the total to 12 out of the 24 primary categories.
This post will show you why this can be beneficial to app publishers and how to research this opportunity for your app.
If you are not used to seeing what a non-curated category looks like, here is one example. This is the iPhone Books category on the UK App Store.
As you can see, six of the 16 apps displayed at the top are in Chinese and not useful to a majority of the population in the UK. Human curated content would solve this and bring higher quality, UK specific apps into the spotlight.
Now compare that with a category that is curated. Here is the iPhone Lifestyle category in the UK. It is a much more useful experience to users and better publicity for the publishers of these apps.
As you probably know, it is almost impossible to get on a curated list in the US unless you know somebody at Apple or your app goes viral. Both options aren't something you want to hinge the success of your app on.
However, in a smaller market, it can be easier to get noticed, especially if you have an app that is highly localized for a particular country. There are a lot of variables involved, such as: the competitiveness of a category, what the editorial team chooses to feature and how closely they monitor the App Store of that country.
Even though there is no guarantee that you will get featured, being in as many countries as possible increases your chances of getting free publicity by being featured in one of these newly curated categories.
So if you are trying to decide on which country to localize your app for next, studying the size of an app market and which countries curate apps for your category can be something that helps you decide.
The easiest way to see what is happening in other countries is to use desktop iTunes. Switching countries on an iOS device can be a little tricky because Apple requires you to have a valid credit card for that country on file.
When you start up iTunes on your desktop or laptop and navigate to the App Store, you will see a very similar homepage across all countries. However, when you navigate to the individual categories, that is when you will start to see country specific apps.
To change the country you are viewing, scroll down to the bottom of the App Store screen and click on the flag bubble in the lower right corner.
From there, you will be able to choose from any of the available App Store countries.
Click on the country you want to examine and you will be brought back to the iTunes home screen. Then choose the App Store category you want to browse from the menu at the top.
Now take a look at the categories that are curated and ones that are not. What kind of opportunities do you see in the curated categories? What types of apps are being featured? How are these featured apps getting noticed by the editorial team?
Curation may actually be a disadvantage in some country/category combinations. Be sure that keep that in mind too.
Your research may give you some great insight or it may be inconclusive. But when optimizing your app for the App Store, you want to leave no stone unturned and these newly curated categories are certainly worth examining for opportunities.
The announcement to add more curated categories to App Stores outside the US and Canada is good news, not only for users in these countries, but also for app publishers who have already published in these countries or are looking to localize their app and expand internationally.
Just like the curated app lists in the US and Canada, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get your app on one of these lists. But they can give you the opportunity to be become a big fish in a smaller pond.
The bottom line is that Apple is taking steps to improve app discovery in any way they can and adding curated categories to foreign App Stores is another way that they are doing it. Localization can help you leverage these improvements to get more downloads.
What have you noticed about these newly curated categories? Let us know in the comments below.