Android Marketplace: An App Fairy Tale?

POSTED BY Global Administrator
The app fairy has been round again. You may well have encountered her, maybe after a rugby match, or a press launch, when the beer has been flowing particularly copiously and, yes, you don’t mind if you do have another one… And the following morning, Sachin Tendulkar Cricket ’10 is sitting on your phone. Because, clearly, it was the app fairy that came in the night and put it there, as you certainly don’t remember going anywhere near an app store and downloading it.

The increasing prevalence of this phenomenon, as demonstrated by the billions of apps which have appeared on our phones, suggests that (a) app fairies are working overtime these days and that (b) there is a dizzying array of choice for them. Google, for example, has confirmed that there are now more than 30,000 apps available in the Android Marketplace, up from 16,000 three months ago. And while this still means it lags a long way behind the App Store – 150,000 and rising – it provides an illustration of the growing momentum behind Google’s OS; while Apple is still in the box seat as far as apps are concerned, the growing prevalence of other app stores with reasonably effective discovery interfaces and purchasing mechanisms means that it is going to have its work cut out to maintain anything approaching this level of dominance in the medium term.

There are, as you, the app fairy and I know, still app stores which are ridiculously difficult to log into – for example, one vendor-run store requires you to tap in a recognition code on registering to prove that you’re not a bot, but rather unhelpfully its smartphone doesn’t enable you to tap in such a code via the touchscreen interface. This approach, one feels, will not be conducive to that storefront racking up the downloads. There are also operators which, having heard that app stores are the new black, have gone ahead and launched new, exciting storefronts with new, exciting apps – which bear an uncanny resemblance to the old, not-so-exciting portals and old, not-so-exciting games and videos that were on offer the day before.

One would hope, however, that such approaches will become a diminishing minority – indeed, vendors and operators which adhere to a modus operandi similar to those outlined above will rapidly find consumers and downloads conspicuous by their absence.

Meanwhile, of course, app fairies – or, for the more sceptical amongst you, analysts who may have had one too many – will be increasingly intrigued by the alternative options offered by browser-based apps. Can’t get into the vendor’s app store? Not interested in what’s available from the operator? Just go online and play.

Unless, of course, you’re overseas and don’t have a data roaming package, in which case the next time you look at your bill you’ll be cursing that app fairy…