If developers or publishers are ready to submit their Android app, it’s a given that they’ll default to the Google Play store. It’s by far the largest Android app store with more than 900,000 apps on the market. But as long-time publishers have learned, it’s advantageous to strategically distribute apps for publishing in multiple platforms, and that includes alternative Android app stores.
Benefits to publishing on an alternative Android app store
The idea behind publishing your app on multiple Android app stores is to increase the chances of monetizing or gaining exposure for your Android app. And some alternative Android App Stores compared to Google Play have unique benefits including superior app discovery features for discovering niche apps and install incentives like user discounts or free paid apps. More importantly, the chances of a developer or publisher’s app being featured on an alternative Android app store can be 20 times higher than on Google Play.
Issues with publishing apps on a Google Play alternative
Piracy is rampant. The wider the net you cast by publishing to multiple Android app stores, the greater your chances of falling victim to piracy. Complain as you may, piracy is an unfortunate loophole in the app store ecosystem, and there isn’t much you can do about it in the short term.
A secondary issue with mobile publishing is a stigma that alternative Android app stores face. Malware is rampant in Android apps, and without the kind of strict oversight that Google imposes on its Play store, there's a pretty good chance that a download is affected - especially if the game is a pirated copy.
Top Google Play alternatives to boost Android app installs
We’ve previously published a guide of “10 App Stores in China you really ought to be on” for the developers and publishers looking to break into China, but if you're looking for global reach and additional installs for your mobile apps you should explore the following ten alternative Android app stores.
Amazon App Store for Android
Most developers and publishers will know that the prime contender to the Google Play store is the Amazon App Store. Amazon’s App Store opened up its doors in 2011 and currently has approximately 100,000 apps in its marketplace mainly for Amazon Kindle devices. It's 800,000 shy of Google Play's 900,000, but you’ll find higher quality apps on Amazon, and its store accepts HTML5 Web apps. The Amazon App Store is also globally available in more than 200 countries.
And if you happen to be publishing a paid app, Amazon features one paid app as a free download per day.
Opera Mobile Store
Opera launched its own mobile app store back in 2011, but the store is a browser-based app serving Android, Windows Phone, iOS, Symbian, Java, HTML5, and even Blackberry apps. The Opera Mobile Store is a popular alternative among Android users, with 60 million monthly visitors and 100,000 apps available to download across all platforms.
Samsung Apps Mobile
The Samsung Apps Mobile store is a leading contender for an alternative Google Play store, and justifiably so. Samsung is the OEM mobile phone industry leader with a 30.4 percent global market share for smartphones according to IDC’s Q2 2013 mobile phone market share report. Samsung pays attention to the quality of its apps and has a strict verification process that scrutinizes apps for malware and device-compatibility; users can be rest assured that Samsung Apps Mobile apps are safe to download.
LG Smart World
Exclusive to LG phones, LG Smart World is another OEM-based app store. LG may not be Samsung, but LG has made gains with a 108.6 percent increase year-over-year by Q2 2013 and picked up a 5.1 percent global smartphone market share. And as the third top smartphone vendor, developers and publishers can’t ignore LG’s Smart World.
Mid-tier alternative Android app stores
When it comes to independent alternative Android app stores, SlideMe Market is the best known. While SlideMe’s store has just 21,614 apps available at the time of this writing, the store not only has a sizable dedicated community and vets the quality of submitted apps, but SlideMe Market also comes pre-installed in 140 OEMs.
GetJar, downloadable on Google Play, offers users paid apps at no charge. It’s a great alternative for developers or publishers, looking to test out the freemium model for their paid apps. With GetJar, publishers can integrate GetJar’s in-app currency or advertising service and generate revenue via in-app purchases or ads. As an added bonus, GetJar has a user base of 50 million and employs a recommendation algorithm to tailor suggested apps to each user's taste.
If there’s an Android app store that’s made for app discovery, 1Mobile is it. With categories segmented by not only top apps, but also by OEMs and occasion-based curated lists, 1Mobile makes it a cinch to navigate its store. With just 60,000 strong apps you won’t have to worry about your app getting buried amid the chaos of new submissions. And to take app discovery a step further, 1Mobile Market's Android app like GetJar curates apps with user-targeted recommendations.
With major game studios including Disney, Halfbrick, and Zeptolabs on Mobango, this app store rivals the size of the corporate app stores and isn’t shy about its achievements to date. On its landing page you’ll find that the store has more than 100,000 apps, 40,000 developers, and more than 8 million users across all platforms.
Other Google Play alternatives
Mobile9 is part social network, part app store. Mobile9 works by encouraging its users to share and discover the apps that their friends and other M9ers are downloading. Mobile9 segments downloadable content – including ringtones, wallpapers, and apps – by device models, but there's no quality control. Since users have to tread with caution on Mobile9 if they’re planning on downloading an app, we’d recommend publishing your app to the other alternative Android app stores mentioned above before experimenting with Mobile9.
Soc.io is the smallest app store on the list with just 10,000 apps (including games), but the store includes a few major app store players including Twitter, Cut the Rope, and Draw Something. Soc.io doubles as an e-book store.