3rd Party App Stores

visionmobile.gifVision Mobile has an interesting new report on developer economics. There are lots of stats and charts comparing platforms but I’ll concentrate on just one specific observation on 3rd party app stores…

"This implies that the marginal cost of distributing an application through one more app store is significant, contrary to popular perception."

because…

"The app store landscape is far more fragmented than one might think; each app store has its own developer sign-up process, app submission process, artwork and paperwork requirements, app certification and approval criteria, revenue model options, payment terms, taxation and settlement terms."

This situation echos what happened last decade, pre iOS and Android, when Handango became a dominant force in app distribution. While there were other app stores, that even had more attractive commission structures, it wasn’t usually viable for developers to use them because the extra effort didn’t translate to significant extra sales.

There are lessons here for both developers and third party app stores. If you are a developer you need to really consider if it’s worth submitting to 3rd party apps stores. I say this mainly in the context of Android because iOS and the Windows Phone ecosystems don’t allow for 3rd party stores unless you include stores that require jailbroken phones. If you are a 3rd party app store provider then you really need some special unique selling point or you are likely to fail.