Increasingly, app stores are more and more like a crowded bookstore where titles compete for consumer attention and shelf space. Few shoppers will endeavor to buy what they can’t find or simply don’t know exists. It’s why brands invest heavily in marketing, pricing strategies, and store positioning to raise awareness, encourage engagement, and drive sales. 

The virtual shelves that line the Apple and Google Play app stores are brimming with apps and more are added at an extraordinary rate. Mobile news website Pocket Gamer reckons the iTunes app store alone sees 1,000 new submissions daily. So consumers are forced to rely on search, to navigate the “aisles” and find the apps they want — but search is broken.

The issue is called the “Discovery Dilemma.” Popular apps rise to the top ranking, while the others are lost in the heap. In some cases, as noted in the book The Everything Guide to Mobile Apps (Simon & Schuster), only 5% of apps accounted for 92% of downloads. How does a new app stand a chance in this kind of environment?

Unfortunately, App Store Optimization — high on the agenda as app developers and companies invest in the tools and talent to optimize mobile apps to rank higher in app store search results – is not a silver-bullet solution to the Discovery Dilemma. That’s especially true as paid UA is on the rise

In the physical world, brands and businesses know the value of broad distribution. More is better! In order to win customer attention, you must build the capabilities to ensure products and services are widely available to customers on their terms — and in their vicinity. In the digital realm, marketers need to have the same objectives. 

Pursuing a strategy that limits app distribution to the major app stores doesn’t just ignore the opportunities emerging in the wider app landscape — it puts the burden of finding and downloading apps on the consumer. In view of these developments, approaches that preload select apps on new Android smartphones are gaining serious traction. In this scenario, brands and marketers make their apps available to consumers directly on the Android smartphone, dynamically — at the time of device activation. This not only avoids the noise and friction of the app stores but also engages users at a critical time of device set-up. To learn more about expanding your distribution channels, check out the “Expand & Empower: Harness New App Distribution Channels To Engage New Audiences” report from Mobile World Live and Digital Turbine.