Comparison shopping for your Android applications

One thing that Android users have that iOS users don’t is the ability to install applications from multiple sources.
Written by David Chernicoff, Contributor

One thing that Android users have that iOS users don't is the ability to install applications from multiple sources. In some cases, such as the Barnes & Noble Nook Color and the Blackberry Playbook, this means a limited choice of apps from a very tightly controlled environment. But on other Android devices (in my cases, a heavily modified Nook Color) you are able to install multiple sources of application for your device.

Not only does this mean a wider variety of delivery methods, there are also stores appearing that are more developer focused and don't have the significant commission rates for the developer when their application is delivered through the better known store.

On my tablet I have three stores currently installed; the Android Market, the Amazon Appstore, and the much lesser known, and smaller SlideMe community store. I found the SlideMe store when I wanted to purchase the professional version of a benchmarking tool I originally downloaded for free from the Android Market. I wanted the additional features of the upgraded version, and to get that I needed to add another store, where that app could be found.

In the course of my adventures in hacking the Nook Color into an excellent little tablet device, I at one point broke the Android market in an odd way; I could download free apps, but couldn't purchase anything. This was an issue, as I needed a tool (WiFi File Explorer Pro) for some experimenting I was doing, so I checked the Amazon Appstore for the same tool. Sure enough, it was available there, and for $1.29. In the Android Market, that same tool was $1.61, and when I check SlideMe's much more limited selection,it was there as well, for only 99 cents.

This certainly piqued my curiosity, so I took a look for all three store for the 20 or so apps I had already purchased. In that small sample set I found three that had significant price differences between the Android Market and the Amazon Appstore:

  • Splashtop Remote Desktop $1.99 in the Android Market but $4.99 in the Amazon Appstore
  • QuickOffice Pro $9.99 in the Android Market and $7.99 in the Amazon Appstore (QuickOffice Pro HD, designed for Android 3.x tablets, was not available from the Amazon store)
  • Tower Raiders Gold $3.99 from the Android market, only $1.99 from the Amazon Appstore

So it looks like not only is it worthwhile to install at least the Amazon Appstore to go along with the Android Market it would appear that for any app you are really interesting in purchasing, you might be able to save a few dollars by comparing the prices in both locations. A competitive market, where price becomes an issue is usually a boon for the consumer, and it looks like this basic rule of market forces is starting to appear in the Android world.

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