Developers welcome choice of Android app stores

Following speculation Amazon is preparing to launch its own Android app store, Android developer says such moves mean good news for developers so long as discovery process for apps is easy for consumers.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor on

Platform fragmentation, app discovery challenges and payment difficulties for both consumers and developers continue to plague Google's Android Market app store, making way for third-party vendors such as Amazon.com to come in and set up rival stores. An Android developer says such initiatives will only benefit the development community.

Chua Ziyong, a Singapore-based Android developer and founder of Android forum CodeAndroid, noted that for developers, it is not about choosing which platform to sell their software but about how much sales and, in turn, revenue they can earn.

If higher sales volumes can be generated by pushing their software through more channels including Android Market, carrier app stores or platform-agnostic third-party app sites such as GetJar, developers should do so as these options simply represent different avenues for users to download their apps, Chua said.

"At the end of the day, users do not care which app store they are getting the app from as long as the discovery process is easy, quick to install and, best of all, free," he told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail.

To this end, he lauded reports that Amazon.com might enter the Android fray and set up a rival app store to compete with Android Market. Chua added that as a content publisher, the creation of more channels is always welcomed as it will open up more opportunities for developers to get their products sold.

According to a Bloomberg report earlier this month, an unnamed insider said Amazon.com is preparing to open a rival Android app store to plug existing gaps in Google's own store.

Complaints from both consumers and developers note that Android Market makes it difficult to accept payments and locate apps, the report noted.

In addition, support for paid apps has been slow to reach most markets worldwide since the inception of the mobile operating system in 2007, and it remains one of the main source of discontent for Android developers.

Google has attempted to address this, extending the availability of paid apps to more countries and, in Asia-Pacific specifically, to Android users in Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Taiwan.

Developers in this region such as those in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are now able to sell their apps on Android Market, too.

Fragmented Android claims
Steve Jobs, CEO of rival mobile platform operator Apple, also waded into the argument this week, saying that developers have to contend with coding for multiple versions of Android software.

Citing the example of Twitter client, TweetDeck, Jobs said the company had to go through more than 100 different versions of Android software on 244 different handsets to ensure its app remained compatible. "The multiple hardware and software iterations present developers with a daunting challenge," he said.

However, TweetDeck CEO Iain Dodsworth rebutted Jobs' claims via a tweet that read: "Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Err nope, we didn't. It wasn't."

Dodsworth followed up with another tweet that said: "We only have two guys developing on Android TweetDeck so that shows how small an issue fragmentation is."

Issues of platform fragmentation, however, along with a less-than-ideal app store and open source nature of the Android ecosystem means Android developers will need to look beyond Google's Android Market to monetize their wares, noted CodeAndroid's Chua in an earlier ZDNet Asia article.

But, according to another Singapore-based Android and Apple iOS developer Muh Hon Cheng, the need to turn to third-party app platforms poses another problem. He told ZDNet Asia that it is "definitely troublesome" for developers to submit a single application to multiple locations.

Furthermore, other Android app stores that have lesser appeal than Android Market might not be very successful anyway, added Muh, who developed the BuUuk app for both Android and iOS.

"I don't think there are any [other] successful [paid marketplaces] for Android OS so far. They just don't have enough reach," he said.

However, Muh echoed Chua's point on the benefits of having more Android app stores in the market. He expressed hope that rival app stores from other brand vendors such as Amazon.com will "push Google to improve Android Market".

When contacted, Google did not respond to directly to questions posed. Instead, it pointed ZDNet Asia to three reports that touched on the Android platform in general.

Amazon.com also did not respond to queries.

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