Trying to Understand Third Party Application Markets

I’m having a difficult time understanding the function and purpose of third party application stores that are available for Android and Windows platforms except in regions where the official stores are not available to consumers, like in China.

From the consumer perspective, getting apps from Google Play or Windows Store is pretty easy and in many cases, people already know what they want so they’ll just search for it. A third party store doesn’t make this process any easier.

How many apps that are not available on the official stores are so crucial that people will go in droves to download a third party app to download those “officially” unavailable apps?

These app market apps or sites can’t even guarantee that developers will keep updating their apps there even as they submit new versions to the official stores.

Aside from the typical revenue split for paid apps and through in-app purchases, developers might have a deal with the third party stores whereby they receive payment for apps that may be downloaded for free. This however isn’t exactly a sustainable model when the stores can’t guarantee a continuous revenue stream. Again, how many people will use these stores?

There are more than a billion people using Google Play every month. What’s the consumer threshold for these third party markets to survive or even thrive? Google Play has over 1.3 million apps while Amazon Appstore has less than 300,000 and it’s not as widely available around the world, but the argument here is not purely the numbers, rather the rate of usage of the stores which leads to the amount of money stores and developers make from them, and availability of sought-after apps.

Not to mention the security issue that comes with these app markets. If even Google Play can’t guarantee that its apps are malware/spyware free, how can these ones?

There are dozens of third party app markets and many have gone out of business or simply not maintained. Third party stores could well serve a specific niche, one that may serve developers and consumers that make or require apps that for whatever reason can’t make it to the official stores but how sustainable is this market?

They could carve out a business from these niche markets but if they can’t provide a different enough experience from the official stores and deliver value to consumers that the official stores don’t or cannot, in other words, if they only offer essentially a clone alternative, that doesn’t seem to be a very wise investment.

The questions seem to come back to why these stores were built to begin with, what were the business reasons, and how did they plan to become sustainable?

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.