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Summary:

Amazon is the most noteworthy of a small army of new app distributors that are hoping to compete with Google’s Android Market. Here are a few other companies that should consider joining the field and capitalizing on Android’s runaway success.

amazon-appstore-featured

Google’s Android may have overtaken Apple’s iOS as the most coveted mobile platform in the U.S., but the Android Market is still a rotten place to shop. The overstocked shelves teem with all sorts of crap among the really valuable stuff, and searching for a specific app in the enormous library is often difficult unless you know the exact name of what you’re looking for.

So it’s no surprise that a small army of players are vying to compete with Android Market by distributing apps directly to consumers. Amazon is the highest profile of these, of course — the online retailer is hoping to differentiate itself by offering only the best Android apps, just as Barnes & Noble is doing on its Nook Color device. But smaller competitors are emerging too: startup BloomWorlds hopes to gain traction as a distributor of family-friendly Android titles, while Archos is focusing on apps for higher-end Android devices with larger screens. All those players are competing with cross-platform mega-stores like GetJar and Mobango as well as carrier stores like those offered by Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA.

More app stores means a more fragmented market, of course, and some app store operators are already having trouble attracting the attention of developers who have plenty of distribution channels to choose from. But here are a few candidates who could benefit from joining the game:

  • Facebook. Facebook’s popularity among mobile users is well documented, but building an app distribution business would allow it to own a much larger piece of the user experience — as well as creating a new revenue stream.
  • Electronic Arts. EA’s massive mobile game portfolio teems with high-profile franchises like The Sims, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Tetris, not to mention classics like Monopoly and Scrabble. But even those notable titles can get lost in Android Market or other app stores with a seemingly infinite number of titles on the shelves.
  • Best Buy. The nationwide chain sells phones from all four tier-one carriers in the U.S., and it is honing its focus on mobile as it backs away from its big-box strategy. And like Amazon, it could market the store by giving away credits to consumers who buy qualifying phones.

For more thoughts on how these companies and others could benefit from launching an Android app store, please see my weekly column at GigaOM Pro (subscription required.)

Image source: Flickr user Symlinked.

  1. It’s not about the publishers, it’s about the manufacturers. HTC (and Samsung, Dell, etc) should make their own store, and shut down all the garbage that makes the Market such a terrible user experience. That’s the only way to create value – and Amazon is the only one who seems to really get that right now…

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    1. The manufacturers should stick to what they know best and that is hardware. Google still has a chance to get it right if they keep tinkering, and if not, I’m guessing Amazon will do reasonably well.

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    2. You’re right that manufacturers have a play here, too, Jeremy, and HTC is reportedly building an app store. But many of them are pushing their own platforms, as Samsung is doing with its store for Bada apps.

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    3. Is there value for HTC to have its own store. Shouldnt these guys .. buy getjar or co-opt amazon or getjar ?

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  2. Thanks Collin for starting this discussion. Having one app store is beneficial to consumers – one stop shop. While Facebook, EA, Best Buy may benefit from starting their own store, looking at it from a consumer stand point, unless these stores offer value (deals, giveaways etc) its will get annoying to search various stores. This problem will then popularize app search engines

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    1. Thanks for the comment, seemaj, and you’re right that new stores are pointless if they don’t offer value. But I think there could be tremendous value in providing a better shopping experience. I think users would jump at the chance to browse at an EA store, or to shop at Facebook for the Zynga-type games that are so popular online.

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  3. “The overstocked shelves teem with all sorts of crap among the really valuable stuff, and searching for a specific app in the enormous library is often difficult unless you know the exact name of what you’re looking for.”

    Is it just me or this applies to Apple’s App Store(s) too? And what’s wrong with multiple stores anyway? I mean, It’s not that so far people had really a hard time buying “stuff” on the web, is it?

    RT.

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    1. It does apply to Apple’s App Store, too, Reece, but Apple vets its apps before they become available, unlike Google. And Apple provides better tools for browsing and discovering apps than Google does.

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  4. Android Market as the name implies, an open market that you may never know what you may find which makes it more exciting to peruse and shop unlike a ‘botique’ store like Apple’s. Android Market is not for the feint of heart.

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    1. It’s true that you never know what you’re gonna find in Android Market, but I’m not sure I any store with 350,000+ titles qualifies as a boutique.

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  5. I’ve got two ideas. First, perhaps the anti-virus companies like McAfee should get in this space. They would sell the peace of mind that the apps they sell have been vetted and are secure from viruses, malware, and other nastiness.

    Another idea would be IBM. They would focus on providing a store for employers with more business related apps.

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  6. I like Aproov because they filter out all the crap apps including adult material. I would rather use a less known store than one that caters to pornography the way the Google Market does.

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    1. CadillacDroid Thursday, April 28, 2011

      so um…. Aproov does exactly what Apple’s App Store does by default? hmm

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