Updated - Angry Birds: Why aren't developers using the Android Market?

Is the Android Market really that bad? Apparently it's deficient enough for people to be seriously looking for alternatives.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

Android users rejoice! You can finally get Angry Birds! Of course, I have to admit that I hadn't heard of Angry Birds before Microsoft got into a flap with the game's developer, Rovio, last week. I am, apparently, the only one who hadn't though, since downloads of the newly-released Android version of the game brought GetJar's server to its knees. Maybe I'll give it a shot.

What interests me more than the game, however, is Rovio's distribution via the GetJar App Store rather than through the Android Market. Just last week, I reported on Amazon's foray into Android App distribution and now, 94,000 downloads later, one of the top applications on the iPhone is flying down to Android devices from somewhere other than the Android Market.

There are conflicting reports as to whether the game itself will end up as a download available from the Android Market eventually, but it feels like more and more developers are looking to make an end run around Google's own marketplace. In some countries where paid apps aren't supported in the Android market, this actually makes a lot of sense. However, Rovio is giving this one away for free (it's supported by ads).

[Update - October 16th, 2010] Angry Birds is now available on the Android Market. I was able to download it in about 15 seconds, but the Market shows less than 50 downloads (I'm wondering about the accuracy of this number), a far cry from the million downloads shown over on GetJar. AndroidCentral has an interesting take on the Angry Birds issue:

The popularity of Angry Birds was only bolstered by today's down time, to be sure. You can look at the decision to (attempt to) publish exclusively with GetJar as a damning of the Android Market. But you can't deny there likely was a mad dash to Angry Birds up in the Market just as soon as things went sour.

Google also takes a pretty laissez-faire approach to its store, so the approval process is hardly as rigorous as that for Apple's store (where Angry Birds has been sold for some time very successfully). So what gives? Why are people turning away from the Market?

My theory? The Market works just fine, but is hard to navigate and that same laissez-faire approach means that there is a lot of noise. Without a QR code to scan, it can be very easy for apps to get lost in the junk that tends to bubble to the top. Even searching for an app is hardly what one would expect from the undisputed king of search.

So developers are going elsewhere. Is that a bad thing? It's not actually a bad thing for Android as a platform. More choice equals more competition and more incentive to use and develop for Android devices. It's probably a bad thing for Google, though, as a broker of these Apps. It also means that a fragmented platform will be more obvious when Google can't control the applications that surface to different versions of Android.

People have complained about the Android Market for some time now. Apparently it's time for a refresh.

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