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When It Comes To Alternatives, App Developers Want More Than Just A Store

Digital Turbine's Managing Director Shalom Michaeli tells PG.biz how app developers are looking for alternative solutions that go beyond traditional stores and aid in business growth
When It Comes To Alternatives, App Developers Want More Than Just A Store
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Shalom Michaeli, MD, Global Alternative Distribution & Growth at Digital Turbine outlines how the traditional App Store model needs an overhaul that helps developers and consumers alike.

In a recent survey conducted among 200 leading developers, a resounding 80 percent highlighted overall user or player growth as their top priority when considering investment in alternative app stores. This figure underscores a fundamental issue: current alternative stores offer little to facilitate incremental growth. They serve merely as additional shelves where apps reside, often idly, due to the lack of effective tools for discovery and distribution. As a result, developers find themselves waiting on the sidelines, yearning for more substantial opportunities.

The recent enactment of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in Europe generated considerable attention, aiming to curb the overwhelming dominance of tech giants. Two of those giants, Apple and Google collectively command a staggering 95 percent of the app store market share. Dismantling this dominance won't happen overnight. Without concerted efforts to address developers' needs, the status quo may persist indefinitely, stifling innovation and growth.

Understanding the urgency of the situation, Digital Turbine engaged developers to discern their expectations regarding alternative platforms. The resounding message was clear: developers seek more than just another storefront. Integrating an app into an additional store demands additional effort, and developers rightfully expect tangible value in return, particularly in terms of bottom-line growth.

There is certainly an opportunity to reshape the app store market. Consumers are installing fewer apps every year and a lack of solutions that address discovery is one reason. Additionally, stores are overcrowded, constantly being flooded with new entrants. As a result, app installs have been on the decline. These driving forces underscore a pressing need: streamlining the connection between consumers and desired apps. Unfortunately, the existing app store model tends to favour popularity or substantial marketing budgets, perpetuating a cycle of inequality.

Today's app stores resemble retail superstores like Walmart, catering to diverse needs but lacking tailored experiences. This can be great for one-stop shopping, but it doesn’t help connect shoppers to things of particular interest. Smaller stores that focus on a particular set of interests or products make it easier to connect consumers to their particular wants and desires.

“The alternative space begs for transformation, offering developers more opportunities to showcase their products...”
Shalom Michaeli

The alternative space begs for transformation, offering developers more opportunities to showcase their products in spaces tailored to their specific audience. Why not envision stores tailored for parents or localised platforms offering regional apps? These solutions would not only help the app developer but also help consumers discover apps they could really use.

Furthermore, alternative solutions must transcend mere storefronts. If an app store caters to a select target audience, then the store itself has a stake in ensuring that people find and use the store. The result is a partnership between store and developer that can actively engage in promoting app discoverability, fostering mutual growth. With a common goal, solutions can be developed that streamline install flows that dramatically ease the friction in app discovery and download - delivering innovation and alternative user acquisition opportunities at scale. User experiences can be coordinated to speak to specific audiences, enabling better connections and relationships for everyone involved.

The journey toward alternative app stores has only just begun. Amidst uncertainties, developers must advocate for solutions that truly empower them. This is why Digital Turbine felt it was necessary to open up a conversation for voices to be heard.

We started the conversation by asking 200 leading app developers across various geographies for their opinions about the current Google Play Store and Apple App Store, along with their experiences and plans for alternative app stores. We’ll be releasing the pertinent results over the next few months through our “Alternative Hub”. Along with fresh insight, the Hub will also serve as an open conversation where developers can share their ideas and help shape the alternative future.

We invite you to explore the "Alternative Hub" today. Together, we can drive the change our industry urgently needs.