Rise and Fall of apps Part 2 – Distribution channels

Once you’ve decided that an app is really required to do whatever it is you need (post to come on how to decide) distributing your app to your users is a bit of a minefield in itself.

App stores are appearing everywhere it seems, off the top of my head this is the list I’m aware of :

  • Apple’s App store (really a sub category within the iTunes distribution and charging framework – appears as as an app on the iOS platform, and as an app for Mac & PC)
  • Android Marketplace – newly revamped, as of January, appears as an app on Android handsets, and a website on the desktop.
  • Amazon are working on their own app store focussing on Android apps, and using their incredible customisation engine
  • Blackberry App World – appears as an app on Blackberry handsets
  • Nokia OVI – appears as an OVI app on newer handsets, as “Downloads” on older handsets, and has a web presence
  • Microsoft Marketplace – appears as an app on Windows Mobile 7 handsets
  • Getjar and other app aggregators – serving the Java handset market and moving into the Android space

In addition, its possible to distribute apps for most devices (iOS excluded) by simply putting them on a web server. This can be an attractive option if you are not worried about gaining exposure to the wide audience that visit the various app stores, don’t need to charge for your app through Google/Amazon/Getjar, or if you want to distribute your app only to a specific audience (for example if its exclusively for a companies internal use).

Apple is currently unique in that any apps submitted to them have to go through an internal Apple review. This is a famously opaque process – your app can be disallowed seemingly on a whim – however there are rules which Apple set down in their developer agreement which you MUST abide by, for your sanity as much as anything else, dont even bother trying to work this system.

Having consumers find your app within these stores is becoming quite difficult, and its worth following a couple of simple of rules :

  • choose your categories carefully. the games category takes up the majority of all of the stores, so simply chucking in another one is likely not to be seen. enter the app into more than one category if you can
  • make sure that the description, name and other data make your app easy to find, sound compelling and make sure you update the description regularly with information on how to contact you, new update information and anything relevant that will keep it sounding fresh
  • advertise in as many ways as possible. buy some keywords, distribute links to the app through social networks and generally just get it out there.

Part 1 – Cross platform development

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