Google Play Store (Android) and Apple App Store (iOS) are two of the biggest distributional channels of mobile programs. These sites offer global coverage and access to a large database of subscribers, but the business’s struggle is growing. It becomes really hard for developers to reach new consumers. Xsolla explored the most interesting alternative ways to distribute mobile programs. In connection with the competition, the open nature of Android and the explosive growth of the Chinese market alternative app stores start emerging all over the world. They provide several benefits to developers and become an important part of the distribution strategy. What are the key benefits of such platforms?
- Alternative app stores provide access to target audiences. There are digital trading platforms which are dedicated to certain types of products: games, utilities, and programs.
- Alternative stores allow selling products to local audiences. For example, Wandoujia (China) or SK T-Store (South Korea) will be the best distributive channels for Western games in Asia.
- The majority of alternative app stores offer a revenue sharing model, which gives developers more deductions than the standard system of 70/30 from Apple and Google. For example, Soc.io Mall has 80/20 system of income distribution.
- Access to additional promotional materials is a key advantage of the alternative app stores for independent developers who try to promote their own products themselves. Administration of some resources allow to pay for a certain number of downloads. So it increases the popularity of your products. Some people even sell the placement in the ‘Featured’ tab.
- The editorial control is much weaker in certain stores rather than in App Store and Google Play. As a rule the consideration of users’ applications is faster.
«From my point of view the emergence of alternative app stores is primarily connected with the problems and limitations of the existing ones. Among the most unpleasant factors are the long review process and the exclusion of competing apps. Users also gain benefits from the availability of such sites. These stores provide the unique content (including the subjects that would probably not suit for the App Store)» – Sergei Peshkov, Xsolla payment specialist, says.
- Many of these stores are available in such regions or countries where it is simply impossible to download applications through Google Play. Particular attention should be paid to Latin America. We will mention it at the end of our review.
«Primary we focus our attention to the USA as its market is considered to be the most popular and paying. After Sheep Happens release we were surprised by the demand for our game on the Arab and Asian markets. What is more the ARPPU was even higher than in the United States. As being developers we are interested in our product to be popular and available for a large number of users. But different platforms and devices complicate our work greatly. That is why we decided to connect with local app stores. We chose the company which is not only aware of the Asian market. It is just part of it,« — Karina Shah, Director of Business Development in LingPlay, shares her work experience.
Alternative stores are so huge that developers cannot ignore them anymore. One Platform Foundation data shows that software vendors who spread their program in several stores are able to increase downloads by 200% (in comparison with Google Play Store). New sites help increase the number of users and installations.
Here are some statistics concerning the most popular alternative stores:
- AppChina audience consists of 30 million users.
- Tencent App Gem is used by 80 million people.
- 25 million subscribers are interested in Anzhi.
- 25 programs are downloaded from Amazon Appstore every month (Opera Mobile Store — 30 million, AppChina — 600 million).
- Wandoujia is the largest app store in China. It has a huge database of 200 million users. Everyday people download 30 million programs and register 500 000 new accounts here.
- Samsung Apps is installed on 100 million Galaxy smartphones.
We offer a brief description of large and rapidly growing alternative stores for mobile applications below.
Amazon Appstore (Android)
Amazon launched the application store for Android in 2011. Thanks to the famous brand, the company attracted a lot of developers and publishers. There are fewer programs here in comparison with other stores as the site has tight moderation and high quality standards. Users enjoy one-click payments and daily offers such as paid programs for free. The store is available in more than 200 countries. There are standard and mobile versions of the store.
«The key advantage of Amazon App Store is its own database of users who buy books, apps and other goods. If a good book appears in this store it will be promoted among users. The larger markets, the better,« — Yulia Vahrusheva, Indie Prize Showcase director, says.
Opera Mobile Store (Android, Java, Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, iOS)
Opera Mobile Store was launched in 2011. The platform supports many formats: Android, Java, iOS, Windows Mobile. There are 170,000 programs and games for 6,000 mobile phones here. The collection is constantly updated. All applications are classified, including Business and Finance, Games, Multimedia, and Communication. Developers can get a free account with an advertising platform. Your programs can be distributed in 230 countries. Opera Mobile Store is good for local markets. Opera also has its own blog where useful materials are published.
«The power of alternative mobile stores is in their users and activity. While large stores work with developed markets only the alternative ones are popular in developing countries. That is why many developers who need a global reach use our services. As the effectiveness of the alternative stores is strongly underestimated, developers can get very good results by investing very little money. The good example is Download Manager application (Android). The number of downloads grew from 200 to 80 000 per day. The app brought Renkmobil 4 853 779 new users.
It’s interesting to watch how our users in developing countries started to move from Java (J2ME) to Android. Of course they remain loyal to Opera Software browser-based products. Opera Mini and Opera for Android are the main entry point into the store.
However, Opera Mobile Store audience is beyond the scope of Opera browser users. Opera app store was embedded in systems, such mobile operators as MTS Ukraine and MTS Belarus. It significantly increased our Russian-speaking audience. Opera Software marketing platform gives developers an access to the unique users worldwide.
Opera Mobile Store is no longer just an alternative mobile store. Our marketing platform for developers and advertisers is tightly integrated with Opera Mediaworks — the largest mobile advertising platform in the world. Its audience is nearly 425 million users», — Anna Melnichuk (Opera Mobile Store) says.
Yandex App Store (Android)
The largest search service in Russia also launched an alternative application store for Android-based devices. The store is installed in all Jolla smartphones — the companies concluded the agreement. The Yandex App Store has a few useful features: automatically updated programs, Kaspersky virus removal tool, mobile billing and wonderful design. Yandex App Store can be downloaded to any Android-based smartphone. It is free but you can pay for additional features via credit card and a mobile phone. Yandex admits only those programs have been officially checked for viruses. 70% of each purchase belongs to a developer and 30% goes to Yandex. Today, there are over 85,000 different programs in Yandex App Store.
«In 2013 Yandex opened its app store by Opera Mobile Store content licensing. Yandex Store is already pre-installed on a number of smartphones and tablets such as Oppo, PocketBook, Explay, TeHet, WEXLER, 3Q and Qumo,« — Anna Melnichuk (Opera Mobile Store) shares her knowledge.
Baidu is the leading Chinese searching service. Not so long ago it decided to enter the market of mobile programs. The company launched its own store for Android-based applications. Baidu collects products from different sites, creating a huge database. All programs are displayed directly on the web page and sorted by their popularity. There is a huge banner there that advertises your application. Baidu’s big advantage is that your programs will be displayed in search queries of multiple Baidu services. Due to the computer search, your product has a better chance to get to a user. Baidu also launched a website for English-speaking game developers to facilitate the adaptation to the Chinese market conditions. Every day 69 million programs are spread through Baidu.
AppChina (formerly known as Qiuqiu) was founded in 2011. About 30 million users have already installed this mobile store. AppChina is the only company in China which doubly covers any losses connected with computer viruses. There are very many ways to download the program: APK, Peapod Client, a link in a message, etc. Editors review each program within 1–3 days. If your application does not meet the requirements, it is sent back with a request to make changes. The major drawback of the store is that it is not translated into English. Only Chinese-speaking people can deal with it. However, that may change in the future.
Wandoujia is the largest application store in China. It was founded in 2010 as a program for smartphone managing. Today the store offers a huge number of applications for Android. All of these programs are not stored on Wandoujia but on other resources; Wandoujia is just an aggregator. The program has an international version which is called SnapPea. According to the official reports, foreign developers are particularly important to the store today. The site works with Flipboard, Evernote Sketch, Evernote Food, Path, Pocket and Line; the partnerships are very successful. Payments are made via the Alipay payment system. The distribution of an income: 40% goes to the developer, mobile operator picks up 30%, and Wandoujia takes another 30%.
The remarkable thing is that the «gold mine» for mobile developers today is not only in Asia. Many developers pass the opportunities Brazil offers. It is one of the fastest growing mobile markets. This region is much closer to the USA and Europe if to speak about consumers’ tastes. It’s easier to understand Brazilian users rather than Chinese or Japanese users.
Brazilians often use mobile devices and social networks. There are more than 55 million smartphone users in the country. This number is twice as big than in the USA. Of course Android rules here. For the majority of local users Apple products are too expensive. Android covers 53% of all South American smartphones, 12% goes to iOS.
Finally, the local users buy the same things as the Americans and Europeans do. Almost the same games are on the top. We advise you to pay attention to the Brazilian market and to promote your games there. Localization is simple for South America. There are only two languages here. You shouldn’t do serious changes in gameplay mechanics. What’s more is Brazil experiences the real boom of alternative mobile stores. We will give the detail overview of it in our nearest post.
If you are interested in the alternative mobile stores pay attention to the companies which allow the applications to spread on a few platforms at once; for example, Codengo and App Publish. Also don’t forget to get in touch with reliable mobile payment partners who work actively with the leading alternative stores. Xsolla is among them, of course.