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Understanding 3rd Party Android App Stores
In July 2013, the race to one million apps between Google’s Android operating system and Apple’s iOS ended when Google’s VP of Android product development Hugo Barra announced that the Google Play store had finally grown to contain more than one million applications.
With 50 billion apps downloaded to smartphones and tablets across the Android ecosystem, Google Play effectively became the big guy in the world of mobile apps.
But if you thought that Google Play was the only game in town for the little green robot, you’d be wrong. In fact, there are are dozens of Google Play store alternatives where where you can download apps to your smartphones and tablets. This, of course, may seem anomalous to Apple loyalists, as iOS app store users still have all but one destination from which they may procure apps.
Here is an updated and running list of all 3rd party app stores you can use as an alterative to the Google Play store:
- Amazon Appstore
- Android Free Ware
- AndroidPit App Center
- Camangi market
- D.cn Games Center
- LG Application Store
- N-Duo Market
- Naver Nstore
- Opera Mobile Store
- Samsung App Store
- SK T-Store
- Soc.io Mall
- Software Store (Sprint)
- Taobao App Market
- Tencent App Gem
In the grand scheme of things, there are many good reasons to use alternatives to Google Play stores in the Android ecosystem. Since they’re all trying to catch up with Google Play, many offer perks and bonuses to set themselves apart and make them more attractive to users.
What are these bonuses and perks?
For starters, numerous app stores offer free apps as well as an unending assortment of promotions. You might discover and download, for example, a fantastic new premium app on “free app day,” or get your hands on a popular but pricy app at a steeply discounted price.
If you’re looking for the top app in a particular genre, many of these alternative 3rd party app stores serve up curated lists that have been filtered either for quality, for a specific age group, or for some other specific criteria, making it much easier for a user to find an app that fits their needs.
Depending on which alternative to the Google Play store you patronize, you’ll also discover ample choices that won’t exactly make it into Google Play’s “Top 10” chart, which is perfect for users searching for something out of the ordinary. Alas, there are even lists of alternative app stores that cater to a specific country or part of the world, because let’s face it, people in Afghanistan probably have little interest in downloading Angry Birds.
What’s in it for app developers?
One of the biggest problems that new apps face on Google Play is simply that, with over 1 million apps now in their teeming storefront, unless a new app really stands out from the crowd via a strong marketing push there’s a good chance that it won’t sell well.
Oh, who are we kidding? It might not sell at all.
Thanks to some of these third party app stores, the chance of a new app getting the exposure it needs to be successful is much higher. One of the biggest of the alternative app stores, for example, is the Amazon App Store, which helps developers get exposure for their new apps by offering users a sophisticated and organized store that lets them find apps for a lot of different, more specific activities.
And those curated lists we talked about above? In countries like China, where practically all of Google’s services are banned, app developers have no choice but to go with local alternative app stores.
Lastly, while Google Play is certainly the place where you’d love to see your app featured and get downloaded like crazy, for developers who want to maximize the exposure of their new and unknown apps (as well as make as much money as possible from them), these alternatives to the Google Play store are a godsend.
With regard to monetizing apps through mobile ads, developers are enamored with the fact that the majority of 3rd party app stores don’t follow Google Play’s lead and erect strict limitations on ad units or on-app advertising tactics. This affords developers and their ad networks of choice a tremendous amount of freedom in choosing how to most effectively monetize applications for a targeted audience.
Are there any risks to using alternative app stores?
For users who download apps from alternative app stores, there’s the added task of having to enable downloads from these new sites in order to be able to get the apps on your Android device.
In order to do that, a user will need to go into their Settings menu, click on “Security” and then again on “Unknown Sources.” Users should also be aware that malware can sometimes be a problem but, if they download an Android security app first and exercise prudent judgment with the content they procure, malware and related security risks can be greatly mitigated.
App developers, however, face a number of concerns as well, including forced promotions, portals that aren’t always as transparent as they should be, and a longer lag time in getting updates out to their users.
All in all, Google Play store alternatives are definitely growing in popularity and food good reason. While they might never reach the sheer volume of apps housed in and downloaded from Google Play, they offer a better experience for many Android app users and create more opportunities for Android app developers all over the world.