4 Reasons Why App Developers Should Restrict App Geographically

4 Reasons Why App Developers Should Restrict Your App Geographically

Did you know that by restricting the availability of your mobile app geographically, app developers or appreneurs could play it to their advantage?

I’m sure you probably didn’t even give it any thought like most app developers, but there are many reasons why you’d want to restrict availability. Some of the best apps such as Tempo and Netflix have done it and continue to do so.

It not only helps them narrow down their audience but also gives for a much better experience. At times, geographically limiting experiments help apps gain a stronger and more loyal base of customers.

App stores give you the option for this restriction setting. By default, when submitting the app to the app store, the availability is across all locations. If you want to restrict the availability, you will have to specify the markets you want it to be available in.

Let’s look at 4 reasons why app developers or appreneurs should restrict their app’s availability geographically.

#1 – Testing the waters

Calendar app Tempo that gained incredible media attention and consumer traction (and now recently acquired by Salesforce), tested the ‘hell out of’ their product before they launched in the markets they intended to.

They ran surveys, interviews with prospective customers and launched it in Canada under a fake name and a fake landing page to see the click through rate on different versions on the iOS app store. And they did all this for about 9 months.

This made sure they had the product tested for market demand, for technically glitches, addressing use cases efficiently and the overall user experience.

If you intend to launch your mobile app in the US or any other specific geography, you can use this strategy to launch it in another market and restrict its availability only to that market first. Open it up once you’re confident it works well.

#2 – Localized marketplace or experience

What if Uber launched its app across countries on day one where customers would download the app and not be able to experience the service at all? Wouldn’t that be detrimental to their business?

Apps that have localized offerings pairing with an offline business model – for example, Uber and Instacart, have to start locally and grow gradually. The experience of the product is dependent on whether the service in its entirety is available in the market or not.

Apps where you’re building a localized marketplace must be launched in a limited geography, as you don’t want users to go through a poor experience in not finding what they were looking for in their location.

Once an app developer or appreneur gets it right and builds a two-sided or multi-sided market place with enough stakeholders or customers at all ends engaged within one city or country, then expand gradually to other markets, replicating what worked.

#3 – Promotion or positioning

Launching your mobile app in a specific geography can also be for reasons of effective marketing and positioning.

The more you narrow down your audience (in the early days), the more effective your marketing campaign will be with high RoI. For instance, Facebook ad campaigns have the lowest CTRs when you have a well-defined and narrow target segment as compared to open-ended campaigns across geographies.

App developers can position their app for a specific geography or market which in turn will help their customers identify better with the product when they communicate with an app addressing their customers’ specific needs or problems.

#4 – Limited license

Netflix simply cannot open up their app for availability across geographies. The reason being that the app’s core value offering is licensed video content, which it itself is restricted geographically.

If the content in your app is licensed from a third-party, be sure to check their agreements and licenses for availability of that content across borders. If it infringes on the rights, you will then have to restrict your app catering only to the market(s) that the content is legally allowed in.

Rahul Varshneya

Rahul is the co-founder of Arkenea, a mobile app consultancy building experience rich apps for startups and businesses, and author of The Appreneurship Guide