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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