Android has become the leading smartphone OS by market share over the past five years. With 500 million active devices, choosing Android as the first platform for developing your app or mobile game is a pretty good choice. However, due to its open nature Android also presents a challenge - namely from the app distribution perspective.
It might seem that Google Play with its massive coverage is the best way to reach all Android users. Unfortunately, the average user downloads only 40 apps for their phone while Google Play has 700 000 available apps. This makes gaining visibility expensive and user retention tricky due to hundreds or thousands of competing apps. Fighting for attention in Google Play is definitely worth it, but it would also be smart to try out alternative channels where the competition is less tough.
In addition to Google Play, there are over thirty different app stores available for Android. Smaller competition means better chances for getting noticed and it also lets you market your app to a targeted audience. For example, with O2 Appstore you can advertise regionally in the UK or promote only to Samsung device owners when your app is published in Samsung Apps.
Trying out alternative marketplaces is not accompanied by any additional costs since a large majority of them do not charge for publishing apps. More importantly, mobile payments are supported in almost all of them so you can be certain that all of the users can actually pay you (after all, they are downloading your app for a mobile device) which can not be guaranteed with credit cards.
For some developers, publishing in alternative stores is the only solution - China and Brazil are notable countries whose developers can not distribute freemium apps on Google Play, while premium apps are supported for developers in 32 countries.
Additional distribution does not require you to invest extra money, but it does require time to figure out which app stores to focus on, complete the submissions and later keep track of the data. Since the Android user base is fragmented, it makes sense to involve a partner who knows the ecosystem and can provide support.
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