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Appitalism: Another App Store Pans for Gold (and Trust)

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Appitalism, a new online app store for phones, tablets and e-book readers, opens today with support for most major smartphone platforms, as well as feature phones with Java (s orcl) capabilities. The store tackles the app discovery challenge with user community ratings and reviews instead of using algorithms to suggest mobile apps. Membership in Appitalism is free, but subscribers can purchase virtual credits with real currency in order to pay for software titles at slightly reduced pricing.

Creating an app store for multiple platforms isn’t new: GetJar was founded in 2003 and continues today with support for multiple handsets and recently surpassed a billion downloads. In that regard, Appitalism and other stores are competing against an incumbant in this space, not to mention the platform-specific stores such as iTunes (s aapl), the Android Market (s goog) and the BlackBerry App World (s rimm) to name a few. Oh, and don’t forget the carrier-branded stores and sub-stores, as well as wholesalers and telecoms that are working together for their own app stores.

The whole app store phenomenon harkens back to the California Gold Rush of 1848; independent entities are scrambling to get a piece of the action before too many others do the same. The odds of finding gold this time around are even lower because of the way consumers place high value on and trust business relationships with carriers and mobile platform owners.

My colleague Stacey raised a good point during a voice chat on this topic earlier today. She recalled her father’s hesitation when he went to install Pandora on his Android phone due to the many permissions the app would have. In essence, he didn’t have any kind of relationship with Pandora as a business in the past. But if the Pandora app was in a Sprint (s s) app store on his device, he’d be more likely to have overlooked that. Why? Because as a customer for years, he trusts Sprint; he sends them a check each month and they provide him a service.

I think Stacey is on to something there. Nothing against Appitalism, GetJar or any number of other independent app stores, but the masses are more likely to stick with the major platform stores that have cropped up since 2008 in support of mobile devices. Does that mean the independents shouldn’t exist? No.They’ll keep panning for gold and earn some nuggets along the way because they’re focusing on the app discovery problem in a market that’s growing so fast, it can overwhelm device owners. Who can blame them when research firms such as Gartner (s IT) are predicting $29.4 billion in mobile app sales by 2013?

For my iOS and Android devices, I tend to stick with the Apple and Google stores, with the notable exception of AppBrain for Android. The main reason I use AppBrain is because I can browse online with a notebook and wirelessly send app installs to my Android phone. Google has already said it will be bringing that same feature to Android natively, so when that happens, even AppBrain may fall off my radar. Where are you getting your apps and which companies do you trust?

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6 Responses to “Appitalism: Another App Store Pans for Gold (and Trust)”

  1. Kevin

    you re probably happy with orignal stores because you know what you want and know how to find it. But the large majority of users are lost and do not know even how to articulate their need. This is why they turn to their friends, to blogs, to social networks to ask for tips

    We, at appsfire try to surf on that need and have built specialized discovery platform for iPhone and now for Android

    They perform particularly well. We do not believe that one generic approach to all app stores will work. Each one has its own needs and rules

    Check us out, when you have a second

    Ouriel Ohayon

  2. App Stores are much alike the retail stores – there are some giant supermarkets and some specialty stores. The key is to serve the need of the end users and provide a quality experience. Quality in the app stores will come from the user’s ability to discover apps relevant to their needs. They should be able to express their needs in whatever form they want – not limited to a few key words, but may be a tweet or a blog post for example or best not even having to enter it, let the discovery engine figure it out for them from a context. That would require innovative use of semantic technology, the one uses. Stage one was setting up the App Stores, stage two is improving the user experience.

  3. Hi Kevin

    My name is Simon Buckingham and I am the founder of Appitalism.

    I think your backing of carrier app stores due to the trusted relationship they have with their customers is a very interesting and valid one especially as you say in a world in which apps require multiple permissions and the installation of almost any Android app is met with multiple warnings about the device functionality that needs to be accessed. This is enough to give even the most app hungry user pause. I think the case you cite of Stacey’s father trusting Sprint more than Appitalism (or other independent app stores) rings true too but I wonder if her sons/ daughters/ nieces/ nephews would share the same view……

    Appitalism does a few things to build trust with our members. We’re TRUSTe certified which isn’t something I’ve seen on other app stores. Our store is 100% programmed by the community so there is complete transparency- only the ratings and reviews on the site determine their visibility on the Appitalism App Store. Our business model is not based on letting advertisers buy premium placement on our store which ends up just letting the big apps like Facebook and Google get more app installs and doesn’t help with the discovery issue. On Appitalism, as the name suggests, every app has an equal shot at success, which our members determine. Who better to trust than other people, rather than algorithms? We’re impartial and completely device and platform agnostic- our only interest is in providing our users with the best possible experience. I think being unbiased is an asset when it comes to establishing Appitalism as a trusted voice to get the best app recommendations from. We don’t develop any apps and we don’t allow any of our employees to have side businesses publishing apps in our stores, so these potential conflicts of interest are avoided.

    You cite several different app stores that you use personally… what Appitalism does is bring everything under one roof… so that there is one interface, account, directory, search engine… which simplifies things for anyone who wants apps on more than one platform… which I hope Stacey’s father will find useful as app stores propagate into his car, his TV, his printer etc, etc



    • Thanks for chiming in, Simon! I totally understand the benefits that an unbiased user community can bring as well as the influence a platform- or carrier-based app store can have on determining an applications success. Truth be told though: every major app store already provides user review and rankings. And even if an app store highlights an app to help promote it, the user community can and should rate it low if it indeed is a poor app. So from that aspect, I think there’s little new ground.

      However, the one place to shop for multiple platforms could appeal in the future as we connect more devices to the web and see application platforms built for them. That’s a potential key advantage for your endeavor and I look forward to seeing if it pays off.