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Haven’t had enough of app stores? Well, there’s going to be a lot more once Appstores.com is finished. The start-up is launching a new app distribution network that allows web publishers to curate their own app galleries, highlighting relevant apps for their audience while building more engagement with users and creating more ad opportunities. Appstores.com is also releasing a new HTML5 Mobile Ad Unit that allows mobile web publishers to inserts ads for apps that are tailored to the reading habits of users.
The new tools are designed to be a win for developers, publishers and consumers, helping solve the question of app discoverability by helping sites become a source of good app recommendations, said Ryan Merket, CEO of Appstores, who was previously Developers Relations Manager on the Facebook Developer Network team.
“We believe the future of app distribution for developers and app discoverability for consumers is giving niche content publishers the tools to showcase highly relevant apps to their audiences. It’s really hard to find apps that matter to you in the Apple App Store and Android Market, so we give the sites consumers visit everyday the means to recommend apps their users would like,” said Merket.
When app stores work right, consumers can get some valuable recommendations on apps from the sites they already trust. Developers can enjoy wider distribution and discovery for their apps. And publishers will be able to engage their users even more, providing a service that they can monetize through existing ads and also sponsored advertisements from app makers. Publishers will be able to curate more than 1 million apps for the iPhone (s aapl), iPad, Mac OSX, HTML5 and Android (s goog) platforms with Windows Phone (s msft) and BlackBerry (s rimm) coming soon. The galleries will be customizable to fit the look of a website and can include reviews and ratings. And publishers can create mobile versions of their app stores.
Early publisher partners launching app galleries include HelloBrit.com, CreateDigitalMusic.com, and FabFitFun.com. Some of the initial publishers using the mobile ad unit include 9GAG.com, TheNextWeb.com and WPtouch, a plugin that powers nearly 25 million mobile WordPress sites.
Appstores previously released a tool that allowed platforms like Eventbrite and SimpleGeo to showcase the apps that use their APIs. Now, with the new app distribution network, the company believes it can serve up more than 1 billion app impressions by the end of this quarter.
We keep seeing more activity in the app discovery space, even though there are a number of options available such as AppsFire, AppBrain, Chomp, GetJar, Quixey and several others. Fiksu and Tapjoy have also launched resources for people to discovery and download apps. And Appia, a white label app store provider, has also moved in this direction, working to help carriers, manufacturers, portals and brands create their own app stores.
I like Appstores’ approach in bringing the app discovery process to specific websites. It does make some sense that a visitor to a sports website might want to get some tips on what sports apps to get. And it rewards a publisher who’s built up a solid audience who trusts their editorial voice.
But for this approach to work, the publishers will need to get into the act of actually curating apps. It has to be some serious work or the value of the app store is lost. Just having a list of a couple of apps that I already know about or seeing some sister apps that you’re trying to sell won’t make it a valuable resource. Publishers will need to invest in making their app stores an actual resource, with some good recommendations and reviews and timely updates. But for those that don’t want to do the work, they can also just run some of Appstores’ HTML5 ads. That’s helpful and presumably relevant to users but not as interesting in my eyes.
Overall, it’s another reminder that there’s still more room to innovate in the app discovery space. With mobile apps eclipsing the 1 million mark, there’s going to be a need for someone to help make sense of it for consumers and developers.