How Apple sales are hitting a language barrier

siri languages

Do you need another metric to follow in the race between Apple and Android? How about language?

That’s the focus of a new report suggesting Apple’s iPhone is predominantly focused on English-speaking nations while Android-powered Samsung smartphones are popular in Asia, Africa and South America, where English-speaking consumers are a minority.

After sifting through the Twitter accounts of both Apple and Samsung, a Saudi Arabian researcher at King Saud University (KSU) found 75 percent of Apple’s followers spoke English, while about 35 percent of Samsung’s online fans were non-English speakers…

KSU’s Dr. Esam Alwagait explains (via Cult of Android):

According to our research, while Apple is more popular in English-speaking countries, Samsung predominates elsewhere, particularly in Asia and Africa.

Apple could make gains by producing an iPhone more “user friendly” to non-English-speaking consumers, he conjectured.

In a chart illustrating the numbers of Samsung and Apple Twitter followers across various continents, the two rivals were closely matched in regions such as North America, Europe and Australia, the two smartphone makers showed a wide disparity in Asia, Africa and South America which don’t speak English.

While the researcher’s call for greater greater user friendliness is a bit of a misnomer, there is a need for increased localization of Apple products.

KSU Localization (Apple and Samsung language data 001)

Since launching the iPhone 5 in India on November 2, Apple has made changes to its two key stores for iOS devices, as well as music and media purchased through iTunes. The App Store now offers India’s consumers to buy iOS apps with the local rupee, rather than only U.S. dollars.

However, the South Korean Samsung already has a global lead in localization.

According to Alwagait, 25 percent of Samsung Twitter followers speak Spanish, while another ten percent speak Portuguese, a language frequently used in South America, Africa and Asia.

As Cult of Android points out, another reason for Samsung’s lead in non-English speaking regions is the company offers a variety of handset options. By comparison, Apple offers just the iPhone.

Apple hasn’t exactly stood still in adapting to non-English speaking markets.

KSU Localization (Apple and Samsung language data 002)

Along with reports that Siri could offer its spoken guidance in a number of languages, South Korea’s Hyundai announced at the recent CES Siri would become available in its autos. In Brazil, Apple is expected to offer its iPhone 5 with support for the Portuguese language.

Perhaps the largest barrier for Apple to non-English speaking nation is price.

From emerging markets like China, India and Brazil come reports that Android is ahead because of its lower price. Apple is adapting to the realities and trying to make some headway in this area by, for example, experimenting with some new interest-free payment plans in China.

If you’re a non-US reader, I’d love to hear your take on Apple’s localization efforts in your market.