Appsfire's Ouriel Ohayon on three steps to unlock Google Play's potential

Pricing, affiliate deals and metadata

Appsfire's Ouriel Ohayon on three steps to unlock Google Play's potential
Ouriel Ohayon is co-founder of app discovery company Appsfire. This is an edited version of an opinion piece that originally ran on the Appsfire blog.

Google Play is suffering from a weak app discovery experience.

In spite of the redesigns and the web presence, most people still suffer trying to find great apps in the newly named store.

Some will point to the fact the search experience is broken. But search is only a minor element of discovery.

On mobile, people are more sensitive to curation and passive discovery whereby recommendations are served to the users without them searching.

Lack of price flexibility

One of the main drivers for discovery is the ability to stimulate the trial of paid apps.

Just look at iOS. About 3,000 apps drop their price or go from paid to free every day. Users love to access those deals (Appsfire Deals grow insanely on this). Apple allows this. Google does not.

Why? It's hard to know. All you can do as an app developer in the Play store is reduce the price of a paid app to a cheaper price (e.g. $2.99 to 99c), but you can't make your paid app free and then put it back to paid.

Effectively Google forces you to stay paid forever or free forever. If you decide to make your paid app free, it will have to stay free or you will need to resubmit your app and lose its history (download, ratings, reviews,..)

External channels

This is a big mistake, because developers can't allow users to try their apps for free and generate buzz. Doing this also helps accelerate adoption, rating collection etc.

But most importantly Google should acknowledge, as Apple did, that an important part of the discovery process will take place outside of the Play store and should incentivise publishers to track and cover the Play store.

This already happens to a degree: many Android app review site exists, but there far fewer than for iOS and they are less well executed. Why? Because there is no affiliate program.

Apple's affiliate program (managed by Linkshare and Tradedoubler) allows publishers to make some money out of the app and games they write about or review when a transaction happens.

Google has no affiliation program, and we hear it has no plans to have one. Currently, if you recommend a paid Android app and it gets downloaded, you get nothing for sending someone to the Play store.

But most importantly, and beyond the monetary incentive, Google should allow publishers to access Play store data in a uniformed structured manner. Currently there is no official feed to enable publishers to gather its metadata. Everyone is using their own methods.

What to do?

Google would dramatically boost app discovery outside of the Play store if it allowed developers to drop the price of their apps to free without constraints and created a true incentivised affiliate program.

This would improve discovery options for consumers, interest more publishers, and enable the deep curation Google can't handle by itself.

Consumers want trusted third party recommendations and this would be a good way to start.

You can find out more about what Appsfire does on its website.

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