Google Play is not the one and only market for Android applications. Many people are incentivized to look for apps outside Google Play for a number of reasons. The main Android market is huge and popular, but on the other hand this makes new apps harder to discover. Alternative markets may include apps that were filtered out from Google Play, country-special apps, or simply be designed for special devices (such as Amazon Appstore).
Alternative application stores has concerns faced by both users and software owners. For users there is an increased risk of getting malware or apps with poor UX. For developers and software owners the problems may hide in terms and conditions of app deployment, as well as piracy issues. Not all alternatives to Google Play are equally useful, but some might be interesting for expanding the area of app distribution.
Google Play Store
We all know the giant Google Play, the primary target of developers’ efforts. Thus it’s not quite necessary to write much about it. Whatever stores you choose for your app, they are most likely to be complementary to this one, which holds more than million apps in its vaults.
If we speak about the most popular alternative to Google Play, we speak about Amazon Appstore. This is the default store for Kindle Fire tablets, which run a forked version of Android and often top the lists of the most popular Android tablets. Therefore it may be useful for owners of tablet-optimized apps. For mobile users, there’s an interesting feature called ‘Test Drive’ that allows trying out an app by launching a virtual copy in the browser, and a popular free-app-of-the-day feature. For developers, there is a stricter quality control than on Google Play Store. Currently there are about 128,000 apps in Amazon Appstore, and it’s available in more than 200 countries worldwide.
Samsung is the biggest hardware manufacturer for Android, and it has its own application store, which can be accessed by an app called S Suggest, which is as well a trademark of Samsung. Apps must be submitted and must undergo the process of quality control and check of device compatibility, so here the risk of catching malware is minimal. The store has about 30,000 apps and works across 125 countries.
Another alternative application store with over 21,000 Android apps, which has a relatively large community and a process of quality check. It’s globally available and supporting a number of payment options, the most popular being probably PayPal. It would be rather easy for your app to get noticed in this store. Other noteworthy peculiarities are SlideMe ad network and an opportunity to get more revenues than from the standard model, which works in three aforementioned stores (70% of revenues go to the software owner, 30% go to the store).
GetJar dubs itself the world’s biggest open application store, and it’s not solely focused on Android. This independent vault contains 350,000 mobile applications for Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and minor platforms. Like in other stores, it’s easy for a user to discover and find apps through categories and subcategories. This is an immensely popular free app repository which is quite capable of bringing additional users for your software product.
You may always browse for detailed information about these and other stores (such as Opera Mobile Store or LG Smart World), and you may consult with your developer before planning the distribution of your Android software. The openness and flexibility of the platform has ensured its worldwide popularity, and niche apps can be placed and discovered by numerous users in niche application stores. Although smaller application stores have fewer visitors than Google Play, there’s quite a bigger chance for your app to become featured.