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Since the beginning of 2011 the Android Market has been the fastest growing mobile content platform, but developers are now looking for other distribution channels due to the low monetization potential of the main platform store.

The “inflation” of alternative distribution platforms has just started.

Today there are more than 30 alternative Android app distribution platforms. They are rapidly opening and collecting more and more applications. The alternative Android distribution platforms can be classified into two categories; aggregators and independent app stores.

  • Aggregators: app stores that only provide app information and usually just a link to the Android Market. They have no direct business relation with the app developers
  • Independent app stores: app stores with developer submission and app promotion functions. They have a direct business relation with the developers who submit apps onto their stores

Some stores are hybrid with both features above. They aggregate app information from Android Market, and at the same time, they also allow developer submission and promotion offers. AndroidPIT, Appitalism, MobiHand and Mobileapps.com are this kind of hybrid stores.

Some of the app stores just concentrate on Android apps, while others also include apps from Symbian, BlackBerry and other OS providers.

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 (10.7% of Android market) to date which were submitted by the developers, followed by PocketGear, Amazon App Store and SlideMe. The smallest independent stores have no more than 100 apps.

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.

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.

The trend of more independent Android app stores with increasing number of apps will continue.

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.

Visibility is key, even more important than reach. Visibility is what independent app stores 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.

For the developers, adding an app to a new platform means additional effort. Instead of submitting apps to all or random single independent stores, developers must learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each independent stores, for example, the marketing instruments, target groups, developer portals, revenue shares, app submission and maintenance processes etc.

We are interested in your view on the future of independent Android app stores. Please share.

New release of the “Smartphone App Market Monitor”: For a detailed view on the app store landscape please see our latest version of the “App Market Monitor”

Free Android Insight report: Download the free monthly report here – “Android Market Insights (May, 2011)

For Android Strategy Workshops, deep dives or other information requests please contact: info@research2guidance.com.

Categories: App Store Monitoring

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