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App Distribution - Why it makes sense to include alternative appstores in your distribution strategy

Posted on September 20, 2012
By Charles McLeod

With low barriers to entering the app market for everyone, making a totally addictive game or an awesome app is not enough to guarantee success. Effective marketing to ensure maximum app discovery and promotion are both key to unlocking high volumes of installs, establishing an app community and paving the way to a greater business success.With an estimated 500million + activated Android devices globally Google Play is the place to be right?

Why should you also include alternative appstores in your app distribution mix?

Well, there are an estimated 90m forked or non-Google Android devices active in China (no Google Play access on device) and major OEMs including Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE and LG as well as mobile operator groups like Vodafone Group have their own App stores across the world, launching from home screens at the touch of a button. Thats a whole lot of devices where the first port of call is unlikely to be Google Play or where there is no Google Play. The universal goal is to maximise the revenue receipts for all IP the company owns and you have finite time and resources- so where do you focus first if you want to tap into the alternative App Store marketplaces above? All in all, there are way more than 200 other independent app stores to be discovered in and promoted, each engaging with specific target audiences or serving specific needs in different market. Think SlideMe, Getjar, Mobango, other OEMs like Toshiba, Viewsonic, Sony , mobile operators like Verizon, Vodafone, Telefonica Group, Telstra and new entrants like Gree, DeNa and Facebook App Centre.Alternative App stores collectively could easily deliver around a billion downloads per month given their combined uniqueness, reach and audience.

The challenge in alternative app store distribution

The alternative app store distribution challenge is identifying who to contact, how to get a commercial deal and then how to manage your apps into those stores, especially since each one may require slightly different requirements ranging from dozens of different (none standard )screen shots and marketing descriptions in different languages to age ratings, categories, pricing and submissions methods. Understanding, managing and fulfilling all of these requirements does take resources, skills and management and can bear great dividends, unless you can find specialists who can do it all for you and just provide you with a cheque--and they do exist out there! Consider also the need for a local presence (China, USA), local country tax codes or withholding tax waivers and other idiosyncrasies and it becomes clear that to effect distribution at scale takes focus and money. Bear in mind that scaling up a team to do this does not provide an instant return, it takes time and focus to achieve which may take your eye off the ball when making great apps!

Think global, Act Local

Experienced developers think global and act local, which is localising their apps and marketing descriptions for the major download markets of China, Korea, Japan, Spanish, German speaking territories where it makes financial sense and where your product fits the market. Some partners help localise your app for free as part of a distribution deal to access markets like China and Korea for example or if you use a third party it is usually based on a low cost per word to translate. With well over 100 million devices active in countries whose first language is not English, and who are prolific downloaders, localisation is high on the how to succeed scale of options. Know your markets. The Chinese like free multiplayer, social games localised in Chinese and do not generally pay for content making ads the main monetisation method. Korea has the highest android downloads per device globally and SK Telecom alone has some 20m Android devices linking to its portal, thats a big niche. Localised content downloads many multiples of times higher than non-localised content, so do the maths.

Promotional mix

With over 600,000 apps on Google Play how do you monetise your apps in the most effective way and how do you find out what works for your company faster than via trial and error given so many App stores, SDKs and so much competition? One of the easiest ways is to get your application everywhere worthwhile and not miss out on those valuable downloads via one or two significant distribution deals engaging a few select, high return, established and trusted partners .Quiz partners on their current customers and reach, follow success and dont try and re-invent the wheel as they often have close relationships to get apps promoted.

Fixed budget advertising

Can help boost downloads targeted via links to important high return app stores via ad networks. Similarly there are many dedicated promotional campaign run on certain app stores like Sprint id , GetJar gold, Appia, Mobango and other offer a pay per install programme to boost chart position and drive installs. If you can get your partner to co-ordinate these download boost programmes and just allocate budget to achieve X downloads then all the better.

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