The goal of every brand and marketer is to attract as many users as possible to their app. But in a burgeoning App Economy that mobile analytics, monetization, and advertising company Flurry reminds us has “grown into a dog-eat-dog world,” reaching and engaging new audiences is a lot harder than it sounds.
Smart companies are looking beyond the iTunes App Store and Google Play, mapping out a multiple app store strategy to reach a larger market with their app. These alternative app store environments offer a variety of benefits, allowing app developers to boost brand profile, reach new audiences and expand to new geographies. From Amazon Appstore (one of the biggest Android app stores in both reach and rate of growth) to the Opera Mobile Store (the app store owned and operated by Opera Software ASA that reports a user base of more than 100 million monthly users across 230 countries) opportunity is calling.
But grasping the opportunity to go truly global and extend your reach far beyond the app store duopoly dominated by Google and Apple – while it brings massive benefit – can also be a mammoth task. This is where a new app publishing playbook from appScatter comes in. The U.K. startup is gaining traction after going public on the London Stock Exchange in September this year with a service that addresses the complete range of distribution, tracking, performance and business intelligence needs and issues companies and brands have as they bring their apps to a wider audience.
Vendor spin aside, the App Publishing Playbook (released today) puts the opportunities and challenges into perspective with practical advice on how companies can distribute their app for maximum visibility and impact. To support its case, appScatter lifts the lid on the *real* size of the alternative app market, data it has chosen to share exclusively with Forbes. I’m excited because these are key numbers that other app market data companies simply can’t know because they only count downloads and developments across the two major app stores.
In total appScatter – which monitors 300+ app stores to date – counts nearly 8 million apps (7,816,941 as of press time to be precise) and 1.8 million publishers. Moreover, appScatter is the only company to monitor and track every app “instance” -which it defines as a “variation of the same app by territory/locale/device/OS/store.”
Since you can have multiple “instances” of the same app across territories or tailored to different devices, it’s not surprising that appScatter the number has just crossed the 1-billion mark. That’s huge.
Vendor spin aside, the playbook outlines the steps companies serious about growing audiences and their app footprint need to have top of mind. A bonus is guidelines on how companies can (and must) ensure their apps – everywhere – are aligned with brand guidelines. It’s an important concern as brand trust is under attack from a flood of “fake apps,” turning up the pressure on marketers to maintain brand integrity and boost consumer trust – or risk losing both to the increasing numbers of rogue apps.
National Geographic is just one a growing group of major global brands eying the alternative app store opportunity. In a recent interview Marcus East, National Geographic Executive Vice President of Product and Technology, told me that extending app distribution is a stretch goal moving forward. (Watch this space for my deep-dive, follow-up interview here on Forbes.)
The aim, he explained, is to “to minimize the cost of being in all these different environments.” To this end National Geographic is “orchestrating an intelligent platform” to equip teams in Asia (where home-grown app stores like WeChat’s Myapp have long stolen the lead on U.S. giants Apple and Google) to identify new app stores and partners to boost app distribution “without having to build everything from scratch, and without having to do lots of development work.”
Indeed, going global can be a lot of red tape. The appScatter playbook observes that each alternative store has slightly different requirements for the assets. Screenshots, marketing descriptions, age ratings, categories, pricing and submissions methods all vary depending on the app store and region you choose to distribute your app. If that wasn’t tough enough, there’s the headache of navigating the myriad of local tax codes and deciphering withholding tax waivers.
Once you publish your app, you face a similar nightmare sifting through the data and analytics that help you monitor your performance – and watch your back. Kudos to appScatter for a breakdown of alternative app stores into 4 groups according to key characteristics (such as geography, app category and focus, and whether the app store is run by an operator or a device manufacturer).