Going Beyond Google Play in Distributing Your Android Apps
We provided the essential info to prepare your apps for Google Play store in the previous tutorial, "Packaging and Distributing Apps for Google Play". However, not all the devices have Google Play store preintsalled due to a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is that device manufacturers have their own branding stores, e.g. Amazon, Samsung. Another reason is some choose the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) for their devices. Google-proprietary applications that are not Open Source cannot be included in this "AOSP" Open Source project.
Once you create your apps, of course you want to distribute them to as many customers as possible to maximize your profit. In this article, we will look into some of the potential app store alternatives. A few basic rules are used to qualify them as our candidates. These stores at least need to support the viewing option in the English language and make apps available for the world-wide audience instead of just local regions. They also need to host and support paid apps.
Other Recommended App Stores
While trying to identify what other alternative app stores are available in addition to Google Play, there are overwhelmingly many out there in different countries, regions, and languages. Therefore, at least some simple rules can help us filter out many unlikely candidates. First off, since our main goal is to make a profit out of our effort, the stores must support paid apps; they cannot be limited to downloads within restricted regions or countries and the stores need to proide the viewing option in English for the world-wide customers. They should also provide trackable info of significant user traffic. There are still several stores that qualify for our rules, e.g. Amazon, Samsung, SlideME, Opera, GetJar, AppsLib, etc. Some major ones will be briefly introduced later in this article. One great source of finding related info is listed as One Platform Foundation in the reference section.
Please note, though, despite these alternative stores can potentially maximize our app profit and exposure, generally they also pose two very common concern issues: security and piracy due to the nature of the store ecosystem and the world-wide customers.
Amazon Appstore for Android
Amazon Appstore for Android as in Figure 1 is one major Android app store considered next to Google Play that is preinstalled on its own devices like Kindle Fire, etc. Amazon already has a huge customer base, so it does give your apps another great marketing opportunity. Since Amazon has its own hardware devices, so many apps are fully integrated. They claim 75% of Android apps would just work on their devices without any additional development required. They also offer extra APIs to enhance your apps, e.g. GameCircle, Mobile Ads, etc. Some Google APIs are not available, however, e.g. Maps, Live Wallpaper, etc. If you recall the Android SDK Manager from the first tutorial of this series, "Getting Started with Android Development", you can download Amazon SDKs directly from under "Tools", "Manage Add-On Sites", and enter the link: http://kindle-sdk.s3.amazonaws.com/addon.xml. Overall, the advantage is Amazon is a trusted corporation, so you don't need to worry about miscellaneous technical support or payment issues.
Registration for developer program is free and you can do it via https://developer.amazon.com/public/ Amazon pays developers 70% of the marketplace list price for all sales. You can also make good use of their app testing service to make sure your app will be compatible with the actual devices.
Figure 1: Amazon Android Appstore
Samsung Content and Services
Samsung Content and Services as in Figure 2 is the marketplace for you to distribute your Android apps targeted at almost all Samsung devices. At the moment, Samsung is the world's biggest mobile device seller. Needless to say, this is an excellent marketplace for your apps. Samsung also provides many of its own APIs for your app use, e.g. AdHub, Group Play, ChatON, Health Service, Gear, etc. Samsung also produces a large variety of hardware devices and appears to top the consumer electronics research and development, so your apps can potentially reach out to an even broader range of totally different upcoming devices. In this sense, possibilities are limitless.
Registration for the developer program is free and you can do it from http://developer.samsung.com/ All the extra SDKs are downloadable here. 70% of the proceeds from purchases of apps are forwarded to the corresponding developer. Samsung does provide its own certification process, so it will take a few days before your apps get certified and ready for the market.
Figure 2: Samsung Apps
SlideME as in Figure 3 is another marketplace worth looking into. Their philosophy is - one app store can't reach everyone, everywhere with the applications they want, so they basically provide a way to market, deliver and distribute content to users that you wouldn't have access to in your traditional channels. Currently they have over 140 OEMs with an alternative SlideME Market preloaded onto the devices. It will work great for global distribution through several custom distribution channels for different partners without any country restrictions across various devices (tablets, phones, TV's, etc).
Registration for the developer program is free and you can do it through http://slideme.org/developers. App sale proceeds minus 20% and operating fees for transactions go to the developer. They claim that for most developers SlideME is either second behind the official Google Play store for global distribution or third for US distribution behind Amazon AppStore.
Figure 3: SlideME
Opera Mobile Store, GetJar, AppsLib, Etc.
In addition to those markets mentioned above, there are still many more alternatives generating tremendous traffic that should be in your list of considerations. We'll just provide some basic info that interest developers most. Once you explore those major stores and still think about further expanding your market, these are definitely excellent candidates to publish your work as well.
Opera Mobile Store
|It is a platform-independent browser-based application store. Their apps lists are compiled separately for each country. It is an application distribution platform for the developers in the world and provides millions of apps and games for different mobile phone models across most platforms.||
Proceeds: 70% of sales
|They claim their Cost-Per-Install advertising platform is the most efficient and scalable way to acquire new and highly engaged mobile users for your app. You can't sell apps directly to the consumer on GetJar, but you can sell through partner app stores to distributes apps and maximize your earnigs.||
Proceeds: 100% through partner stores
|They claim to be the second largest Android marketplace after Google Market and have an installation base of over 2 million tablets worldwide and the only marketplace on those tablets. Customers will not see your apps if they are not in AppsLib.||
Proceeds: 70% of sales
Figure 4: Opera
Figure 5: GetJar
Figure 6: AppsLib
In this article, we laid out some basic criteria to identify some major alternative app stores in addition to Google Play. The list of recommended stores we briefly described includes Amazon, Samsung, SlideME, Opera, GetJar, AppsLib, etc. These are the app stores with high-volume traffic and without the availability of Google Play for various reason. Therefore, if you don't publish your apps at their stores, customers simply do not have a way to see or purchase them. In the reference section, One Platform Foundation maintains excellent statistical information about even more Android app stores with sortable categories you should check out. In summary, no matter how many more other stores can be found in the future, focusing on creating great apps is always the most important of all.
- Android Portal at: http://www.android.com
- Google Play Store at: https://play.google.com
- One Platform Foundation at: http://www.onepf.org/appstores/
- Androidlet at http://www.androidlet.com
About the Author
Chunyen Liu has been a software professional for years. He was among winners at programming contests. He has been software co-patentee, written 30+ articles, reviewed books, and published apps at Androidlet and The J Maker. He holds advanced computer degrees, trained in 20+ graduate-level courses. On the non-technical side, he is a rated player, certified umpire, and certified coach of USA Table Tennis, winning State Games and US Open categorized doubles event previously.