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Are More App Stores on the Horizon?


Isadora Teich wrote this article


Currently, if you want to download or launch an app, you only have two well-known options. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you have to go through the Apple Store. If you have an Android device, then it’s the Google Play Store for you.

For makers and app marketers, it’s pretty much the same. However, in the future, this might not always be the case.

Could there potentially be dozens of popular app stores someday?

What would this mean for developers, consumers, businesses, and the future of apps?

Let’s take a look.

Why Developers Want More

Currently, The Google Play Store and the Apple Store are the world’s largest distribution channels for mobile apps.

While it is unlikely that they will be replaced overnight, a wide range of new options have started to crop up. I believe this is a natural progression for several reasons, which I will get into in this blog post!

For one, many app developers have become frustrated, especially with Apple.

In the case of both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, there is just too much app saturation. Competition is high, and it’s easy for apps to get lost in the mix.

It could benefit app developers greatly to instead get situated in a more segmented app store that’s targeting a specific niche.

What could this potentially look like? This could include stores dedicated solely to entertainment apps, or education apps, or that serve users in certain geographic areas.

Issues With Apple

Apple, on the other hand, has become practically infamous for having problems with app makers.

Many claim that it offers certain developers preferential treatment and waves their fees, while charging others 30% of their earnings. A legal battle between them and Epic Games over the immensely popular Fortnite resulted in the game being pulled from the Apple Store.

This year, two separate antitrust cases were filed against Apple in the EU. Spotify has also accused them of trying to create a monopoly. Many developers have called their rules vague and unevenly applied. You can learn more about some of the problems developers have been having with Apple in this blog post.

However, it is unlikely a complete mass-exodus from Apple will ever happen.

For one thing, Apple only allows users to use Apple-specific apps with their devices, unlike Android and Google. However, considering all of the bad blood between Apple and developers, as more options become available, it is likely that developers will do what they can to move to more competitive distributors.

Epic even wants to have its own App Store for Fortnite and it’s other games. While this might sound crazy, it is actually not at all. While companies may sit at the top of any industry for long periods of time, it’s always a matter of time before innovation shakes things up.

Indeed, alternative app stores are not even a new concept.

Other App Stores Already Exist

While it’s likely you’ve only ever heard about Apple and Google’s app stores, there are a number of other highly popular app distributors in Asia. There’s also a small handful in the West. As far as alternative Android App Stores, there are many more than you might think already.

This includes the Amazon AppStore, GetJar, F-Droid, AC Market, Aptoide, and Opera Mobile Store. Each has hundreds of thousands of apps.

In order to compete, these alternate app stores offer things that might appeal to different types of developers. For example, the app store CodeNgo offers bulk Android App submission. This means that by filing in a single form, your app is submitted to over two dozen stores, including Google Play, Opera, and Samsung.

The Seattle-based alternative App Store SlideMe has a growing audience and a more segmented approach as well.

They say their philosophy is defined on the basis that “one Application Store can’t reach everyone, everywhere with the applications they want.” They already have a massive global reach and are probably one of the biggest app stores you’ve never heard of.

Zoom and Zapps

It’s no secret that Zoom has spiked in popularity and become an indispensable tool as Covid forces us into social distancing and remote work and school. Now, they are launching third-party applications they call Zapps.

Zapps are essentially third-party applications that integrate into Zoom’s existing workflow. This enables users to more easily access information and collaborate during video calls. At the same time, Zoom is also launching OnZoom. OnZoom is an integrated online events platform.

Zoom actually already has an existing app marketplace, which allowed developers to bring its functionality into their own apps. However, the new Zapps marketplace brings third-party app functionality into Zoom.

The company plans to launch with over 30 Zapps partners too. This includes Slack, Dropbox, HubSpot, Atlassian, and Salesforce.

Zoom also expects increased collaboration with education partners, as lockdowns continue to be reintroduced and stretch on.

By the end of this year, Zoom is expected to reveal the first round of Zapps. They will be available to users whether they are on free or paid plans.

What Comes Next?

It’s highly unlikely that the Apple App Store and Google Play Store will suddenly become obsolete and vanish any time soon.

However, it is likely that their total grip on all things app-related will start to slip.

Developers and companies want more flexible options when it comes to distributing their app.

Giants like Epic Games and Zoom are also entering the app marketplace in big ways. If other major apps follow suit and create their own app stores, even if catering solely to their own product offering, this could cut into the App Store downloads in a meaningful way.

Keep in mind that globally, countless other app marketplaces already exist and many are gaining traction. While no one can say if any of them will ever supplant the big two, we are headed into a world of more app marketplaces regardless.

More segmented app marketplaces can also benefit users and developers in other ways.

While for marketers, the overwhelming number of apps make it easy for their offerings to get lost, this is also a negative for app users. Choice fatigue is a big problem. It can feel daunting to find what you need in a sea of millions of things.

As more tech companies work on creating their own marketplaces, this will likely open up even casual users of apps to the idea of using alternative app stores.

While it is likely that many people have never spared a moment’s thought to alternative app stores before, this is likely to change fast.

What Do You Think?

Do you think that more app stores will benefit consumers, developers, and businesses? Do you think that we are on the cusp of an app store boom, or that Apple and Google Play will always be at the top?

Talk to me.

About Since 2009, we have helped create 350+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.


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