There is no doubt that at the moment Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store are dominating app distribution. Many players of the app economy have even talked about monopoly practices and this actually endangers the health of the market. A market with enough competition is a healthy market and that’s why we need third-party app stores.
Third-party app stores are not only beneficial for the app ecosystem itself but they also are a great opportunity for app developers. The specifications of certain regions of the world, better conditions for app creators, innovative monetization and distribution techniques… and even higher visibility for indie apps. There are many reasons why Android app developers should give third-party app stores a good chance, and here you have the most important ones.
Specifications of Regions
Users’ preference for app stores is sometimes dependent on their region since there are political and cultural circumstances that are determinant for users’ access to major app stores. For example, Google Play is not available in China, and the influence of this country in Asia is bigger than we think. MyApp (the app store of the gaming company Tencent) has 25% of the Chinese app distribution market, and the rest of it is mainly controlled by OEMs.
The truth is that Asian OEMs dominate the Android device market, and, especially after the complex relationship between the Trump administration and Huawei, they have quite a strong interest in reducing their dependency of Google’s services, including the Play Store. Some of these Chinese OEMs are actually not limited to that country. Xiaomi, for example, is increasing its market share in Europe at an incredible speed, reaching almost 10% share in 2019.
Therefore, if we want to reach users in Asia, third-party app stores, like the ones belonging to OEMs, are a great opportunity for us.
They Want You
These app stores have a clear interest in attracting not only end-users but also developers. At the end of the day, they depend on having good quality and a good amount of content. This is why they are in a position of offering better deals. One obvious case was Epic’s release of Fortnite in Samsung’s Galaxy Store. It was no secret that the gaming studio refused to distribute it on Google Play due to the high commission they would get per in-app purchase, so we can assume that the conditions offered by the Korean company were much better. In the case of Catappult, the commission kept by the app developer is 81% per in-app purchase, compared to the 70% in Google Play.
Online Presence and Innovative Solutions
Having your app in more stores, especially if these have an online version, will give more visibility to your brand. SEO is proven to actually have an impact on ASO (App Store Optimization). Make sure your app has all relevant information updated, such as app name, app description, and other assets like screenshots or even videos. If these are being displayed in several app stores, your app will have more chances to appear in search engine results when a user types the right keywords in an app store.
Third-party app stores are looking for a way of differentiating themselves from the rest, so they try to find alternative solutions to both developer’s and user’s problems. The model of Catappult for user acquisition, for example, is based on rewarding the user for 2 minutes of attention with a currency that they can only use to make in-app purchases.
App distribution and monetization are constantly evolving. We’ve seen the rise of in-app advertising and 2019 proved to be the big year for monetization through subscriptions. When looking at the efforts of OEMs to increase the presence of their app stores, it’s evident that if changes in market share are to happen during the coming future, third-party app stores are definitely something to look at.