Jun 5, 2013 · 2 minutes

Anyone who's released an application knows how hard it can be to expand with even the simplest of products. Every market is unique and it can be difficult to figure out whether something that worked in the US will work in Europe or Asia or if the potential gains aren't worth the hassle of expansion. Software might rule the world, but your app might never make its way across the Pacific.

App Annie wants to make it easier to learn about a market before expending the time and energy required to release your application there. The company is today updating its Intelligence product to help you understand the ins and outs of international markets and the products and business models that might or might not work in them. Think of it as the tool you might use before deciding to move to a new neighborhood, except you're looking for the right place to build a business instead of a town with a good school and low crime.

The company hopes to help you see which applications are the most-downloaded, most-purchased, or have brought in the most revenue in every market from which applications can be sold. You can also view App Annie's estimates for just how well a particular application has performed within those markets with a comprehensive breakdown of how many people have downloaded the app, when it became popular, and how large its user-base really is. Unlike the previous iteration of the Intelligence product, which offered weekly and monthly reports that had to be downloaded as a spreadsheet or data file, the newest version allows you to view day-by-day updates directly in your Web browser. (You can still download more detailed information, however -- more on that later.)

This data is useful mostly for voyeuristic reasons. Wonder how a competitor fared after expanding to Asia? App Annie can give you a rough idea. Concerned about a rival photo-sharing application capturing the kinda-coveted European market? App Annie will let you compare the popularity of your respective products. Or, of course, you could be looking to disrupt (ugh) or catch-up to another product and wonder if they had failed to gain traction somewhere. App Annie is simply presenting the information, it doesn't particularly care what you do with it.

App Annie does, however, want to help you make an informed decision about which markets should be graced by your product's presence. The company will now allow users to download detailed reports that, thanks to a data visualization startup called Tableau Software, will offer at-a-glance data about the types of products and business models that are popular in a particular area. Provided you're using Windows, anyway -- Tableau's product is currently restricted to Microsoft's operating system, which will limit its usefulness to anyone developing for iOS until the product makes its way to the Mac.

The visualizations aren't the most aesthetically compelling imagery to ever appear on your display, but they do offer granular control over how and which data is presented. You can specify which app stores you're likely to enter, which market you may expand to, what your business model is going to be, and more. To continue with the neighborhood-hunting analogy above, the visualization product is basically a real estate service focused on the type of applications and business models that have done well in an area instead of the number of bedrooms or bathrooms a house might have. If you're thinking of moving you might as well get a good realtor, right?