Monday, June 20, 2011

Developers head for alternative distribution platforms due to Android’s limited business potential

BERLIN, GERMANY: Android app developers are opting to submit their apps to multiple app stores, and so are heading for independent stores. The "inflation" of alternative distribution platforms has just begun. Today, there are more than 30 alternative Android distribution platforms, with more and more opening and building up their catalogues with increasing speed.

Today, almost half of all Android apps listed in the original Android Market are also listed in independent stores. This share is going to increase as the competition level in the Android Market has reached a level that makes it difficult for a publisher to stand out of the crowd. Getting found amongst 5,000 apps is much more likely than amongst 200,000 apps.

The trend of more independent Android app stores with increasing number of apps will continue for some time. One indicator of the growing importance of independent stores is that investment companies have started to invest into these companies. Most prominent examples are Getjar and PocketGear raising over $10 million last year and Appia again (formerly PocketGear) collecting $10 million this year.

As one of the consequences of the high level of competition download numbers of paid apps in the Android Market are very low, and do not support any reasonable paid app-based business case for the vast majority of app publishers.

For developers, visibility is key, even more important than reach – and visibility is what independent app stores can offer. The “inflation” of Android app stores is a consequence of the growing number of Android apps and their growing business potential. Independent Android app stores build their service offering around additional promotion areas within the store and the targeting of specific user groups to allow better monetization opportunities for app publishers.

The number of Android apps the independent stores offer varies a lot, although none of the stores have reached comparable app numbers to the original Google store. The biggest independent store, Handster, has 23,204 apps to date (10.7 percent of Android market), which were submitted by the developers, followed by PocketGear, Amazon App Store and SlideMe. The smallest independent stores have no more than 100 apps.

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