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At one time, social media consisted of just a handful of sites. Over time, however, numerous niche and specialty social media sites have proliferated, giving consumers more choices. The same is true of mobile app stores.
App creators and consumers no longer find themselves limited to the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Many other options exist, and since they’re smaller than the Big Two, apps prove far more discoverable via these platforms.
Mobile app stores designed for specific niches and industries or for particular markets deserve your attention if you want more app downloads and better visibility. No matter the nature of your app, you want people to use it and interact with your brand.
Unfortunately, many mobile app stores have shut down over the last few years, creating confusion among both brands and consumers. That’s why we need an updated mobile app stores list so you know where to reach consumers in 2019.
You’ll notice that the majority of mobile app stores in our list below focus exclusively on Android devices. There are a few reasons for the imbalance between Android and iOS.
For one thing, as of June 2018, Android market share stands at just over 54 percent. For another, it’s a far more open platform, installed on devices ranging from Samsung and LG to the Google Pixel Motorola phones. Additionally, Google Play has certain limitations and restrictions that the other app stores don’t have, which makes the alternatives more appealing to certain consumers.
One of the exceptions, Cydia, is an online mobile app store designed specifically for jailbroken iOS devices. But we’ll go into that more below.
Each of the mobile app stores we’re about to share with you has different processing for submitting apps and getting them listed in their marketplaces. Some are more restrictive than others, and a few are more focused on hyper-specific categories of apps, such as games.
Before you submit your app to an online marketplace or app store, read the submission guidelines carefully. Working with an experienced developer will ensure that your app meets minimum standards and can compete successfully against others of its type.
With those details out of the way, let’s look at our list of mobile app stores. We’ll start with the big two — Google Play and Apple App Store — and then look at the smaller, but no less viable, options for your mobile app.
The Google Play Store, which hosts movies and other content as well as apps, was one of the first mobile app stores. It opened its doors in 2008 and exclusively targets the Android market. The platform boasts 2.6 million apps as of December 2018.
While the Google Play Store has a robust search engine that makes finding apps easy for consumers, brands sometimes find that their apps get buried in search results. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t list your app here — you should — but you also want to explore other Android-specific mobile app stores.
For iOS users, the Apple App Store is often the first place to look for amazing new applications. According to Lifewire, the Apple App Store contains 2.1 million apps, though that number includes apps developed specifically for Apple TV and Apple Watch, among other products.
Building your app for both Android and iOS users gives your app the best potential for discovery. However, you’re looking at nearly 5 million competitors in these mobile app stores, which is why you might want to consider listing your app elsewhere.
Many device manufacturers have discovered that they can integrate their customers more fully under their brands by offering mobile app stores of their own. The Samsung Galaxy Apps store is just one example.
Since Samsung can preload its own app store onto its Android devices, customers have the apps they want at their fingertips. Far fewer apps exist on marketplaces like this than on Google Play, so discoverability increases for app creators.
LG has a similar mobile app store, called SmartWorld, that is automatically installed on LG phones. This app store also offers applications that are designed for LG TVs and other devices.
This mobile app store is primarily targeted to the Chinese market, with most app names and descriptions written in Chinese characters. Huawei is installed on many of the company’s devices and allows people in countries without access to the Play Store to download the apps they want to use.
Like several of its competitors, the Sony Apps market is designed for people with Sony mobile devices who want to search natively on their phones or tablets without turning to Google Play. It’s geared primarily toward entertainment, but you can also find plenty of brand apps that offer other functionality, as well.
It’s no surprise that ecommerce giant Amazon has branched into the app space. The Amazon Appstore hosts Android apps and comes preinstalled on devices like the Fire Phone and the Kindle Fire in place of the Play Store.
Remember that consumers take the road of least resistance to get what they want. If they already have the Amazon Appstore on their device, they’ll search for an app they want there first, before downloading another marketplace.
When your app appears for these customers, you save them the trouble of downloading more stores to their devices, which can help not only with brand recognition but also with brand loyalty.
Plus, consumers with any Android-powered device can download the Amazon Appstore. As we’ve seen in other areas of commerce, Amazon tends to dominate the spaces it infiltrates, so expect downloads to increase.
Many Android users choose Aptoide instead of the larger mobile app stores because of the ways it displays app listings. It’s highly intuitive and easy to navigate, which makes it an appealing alternative.
Additionally, Aptoide remains just as broad as the other mobile application stores. You can find games, productivity apps, store apps, and more. Since it isn’t niche-specific, other than catering exclusively to the Android OS, it’s a great choice for any brand with an app.
Consumers who appreciate open-source software feel magnetically drawn to F-Droid, which is, as of this writing, the only Android mobile app store to offer free and open-source apps in a marketplace.
It’s not the ideal choice for many brands because it flags any commercialized aspects of the app in the store. Additionally, the primary repository lists only apps that make their source code available.
However, F-Droid also allows users to create their own repositories, which might include apps from brands that enable features like user tracking with no pushback from the user base. Exploring the various repositories takes time, but it’s worth the effort if you want your app available to as many people as possible.
The GetJar interface might look a little dated, but the simplicity of its website and mobile app store makes it a popular choice for both app developers and consumers. It’s an open app store, which means that it offers apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and other OSs.
This unique approach endears it to many consumers, especially those who own devices with different operating systems. For instance, Android phone users might have iPads or Apple TVs in their homes.
Over the years, GetJar’s open policy has made it vulnerable to people who upload apps infected with viruses. As long as you have anti-virus software installed on your device and you investigate apps before you download, however, you should stay safe.
Whether or not you want to host your app on ACMarket, you should be aware of this mobile app store’s existence. It’s designed specifically for cracked, hacked, or modded apps, which means that the apps found here have been altered to remove so-called “undesirable” features.
If you’re concerned that your app appears on ACMarket, you can investigate the situation and warn your user base should the need arise.
As you can see, there are lots of mobile app stores for Android, and SlideME is no exception. It’s one of the most mainstreamed alternatives to Google Play Store and hosts both free and premium apps in its listings.
When it first launched, users complained about poor downloading and installation processes, but those quibbles have dramatically decreased. App creators can make their apps available to hundreds of thousands of users who prefer SlideME to Google Play Store.
This is another Android-specific mobile app store that also hosts applications for the Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu OSs. In terms of mobile apps, it rivals Google Play in a number of apps, app descriptions, and editorial reviews.
One of the primary unique selling propositions of Uptodown is that human beings filter all the apps submitted for listing in the marketplace, which can cut down on malware, viruses, and issues with fake descriptions.
Uptodown only offers free apps, which might make users more likely to search for content here rather than Google Play, and it has worldwide availability. Certain countries, including China, can’t access Google Play without a workaround, so Uptodown caters beautifully to those markets.
Although Itch.io caters almost exclusively to games and gamers, it’s still worth mentioning. Many brands have discovered that gamification makes their apps more appealing and more likely to be used, and incorporating gameplay into an app can make it more popular.
The great thing about Itch.io is that it was built for both developers and consumers, so it covers both bases beautifully. The interface isn’t as intuitive as some of the other alternatives on the market, but it possesses a clarity of purpose that makes it ideal for its audience.
As mentioned above, Cydia is different from the other mobile app stores on this list. It’s designed specifically for iOS devices that have been jailbroken. Those devices can’t access apps on the Apple App Store, so consumers who purchase jailbroken phones or jailbreak their own phones often use Cydia.
Think of neXva as a mobile app stores with many different mobile app verticals that others have developed. It was built specifically for developers who want to control how their content is distributed among consumers, so it’s a highly useful part of any mobile app marketing strategy.
Originally known as the Opera Mobile Store, Bemodi is browser-specific to Opera and offers mobile app downloads via the web browser rather than a self-contained app. Consequently, it’s more useful to consumers who use Opera exclusively and who don’t want to load yet another app onto their devices.
AppBrain is simultaneously a collection of app promotion tools and a browser-based mobile app store. Brands can use AppBrain to make their apps more visible in various mobile app stores, including its own, as well as to drive more traffic to their app listings.
This Android-only online app store has been around for several years and developed an almost cult-like following. Although it focuses primarily on games and entertainment, it doesn’t discriminate when it comes to the types of apps it supports.
One of the selling points of Appolicious is that this mobile app store has very strict requirements about the specific apps that make it through its gatekeepers. Its goal is to provide the highest-quality free and paid apps on the marketplace, so getting your app listed here can improve visibility significantly.
Kongregate is one of the many mobile app stores that focuses on games and entertainment, yet has a robust selection of apps in other categories. Many consumers find their way to app stores because they’re looking for games, but discover brand-associated and other useful apps along the way.
Appland is designed for both app launches and app downloads, which makes it an ideal part of marketing any mobile app. It offers functionality for Android, Windows, and iOS.
Many mobile app stores have been created exclusively for the Chinese market. Although people in China and in other countries that can’t access Google Play can get mobile apps using a virtual private network, or VPN, many find it easier to use a Chinese app store instead.
If you plan to use these online mobile app stores, you’ll need to create Chinese-language versions of your app. Following are some of the most popular mobile app stores for the Chinese market:
Tencent is perhaps the most well-known of these, providing its huge user base to hundreds of thousands of high-quality apps from all over the world. It’s known interchangeably as Tencent, Myapp, and Tencent Myapp.
However, many of the other app stores have consolidated over the years, and although you can still access them individually, they’re actually part of the other markets.
This is where marketing your app in online app stores gets confusing because you don’t want multiple, competing listings. When you’re researching online app stores, check to see whether the parent company owns other stores on your list. That way, you’re not doing extra work for nothing.
Most of the Chinese-market mobile app stores support Android. A few also allow iOS apps to be distributed and downloaded, as well, though most don’t support Windows phones.
You don’t have to put your mobile app in every available store, but distributing your app widely can increase downloads by a considerable margin. Plus, when consumers switch phones — and perhaps OSs — they’ll be more likely to take your app with them because there won’t be any barriers to entry.
Keep in mind, though, that all the submissions in the world won’t make your app discoverable. You have to optimize your app for search so consumers can find it easily.
Start with the name and description of your app. Think about what people might type in the app store to discover your app — keywords that best describe what your app does.
Make sure you fill out every field available through the app store you’ve chosen. Some app stores, for instance, allow you to attach keywords or tags to your app, while others do not. Customize your description and form fields for the app store you’re currently targeting.
Ask people who use your app via specific app stores to rank and review your app. Many mobile app stores take rankings into consideration when it comes to search results, so you don’t want to miss this opportunity.
Finally, optimize your thumbnail and images for the specific app store. Some publish recommended image ratios so that your images render properly. Pixelated or stretched images turn off consumers because they look unprofessional.
Building your mobile app is just the beginning. You need to keep track of the back end, submit it to mobile app stores, and make adjustments as technologies change. At BuildFire, we help take the guesswork out of building an app and provide a cost-efficient way to get your app released into the world.
Knowing what online app stores appeal to you most and making sure you’re submitting to the best ones will help your app spread far and wide. Ultimately, you want people to use your app for years to come, but first they have to download it.
There’s lots of competition. Everyone wants their apps to be successful, so you have to take the extra step to ensure your app is available to anyone who wants it.
Which mobile app stores are most appealing to you? Why?