What was for many years a threat has now become a reality — a Russian law requiring mobile phone manufacturers to ship with preinstalled Russian-made apps (or allow them to be easily installed).
It appears that Apple updated its onboarding flow to do just that, as seen here:
Ah looks like the Russia App Store thing is live now pic.twitter.com/zxz4GgQeoW— Khaos Tian (@KhaosT) April 1, 2021
Will other governments be inspired to force Apple and others to prioritize their home-grown apps?
This is part of a larger trend of countries around the world asserting their authority over the software that has so easily crossed over their borders, namely Google and Facebook, as well as one very successful phone manufacturer. And, true, there are other geopolitical issues at work here, particularly in Russia. Did Yandex require government assistance when it was already the leading search engine in Russia?
Nevertheless, developments such as this pose challenges to any company that thinks it can develop one app that will succeed everywhere with little in the way of localization. Every country, every region poses its unique cultural, linguistic and legal challenges.
But there is also a larger question every company must ask when it is asked to “localize” its product to gain entry into a market: When does localization become capitulation? As I wrote back in 2013: Companies are desperate to succeed in markets around the world — markets where they may indeed be asked or required to do things they don’t want to do.