The Google Play Store might have been the only go-to place for users looking for Android apps in the past, but now, its dominance is gradually being challenged by several other emerging alternatives. A recent study by 451 Research sponsored by mobile strategy platform appScatter found that the number of alternative Android app stores has been steadily increasing in 2017, according to AndroidHeadlines.

App Stores Android Play Store
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Rising alternatives for Google Play Store

On Wednesday, in a 15-page white paper, 451 Research noted that several emerging alternative Android app stores are gaining attention due to growing demand for apps around the world. Previously, several studies suggested that app markets in certain regions are already showing signs of significant saturation, but the report done by 451 Research indicates that those assessments are exaggerated, as the market is still growing.

In the first quarter of the year, a record number of mobile apps were download, bringing in record revenue, according to app store analytics firm App Annie. Downloads increased by 15% year over year across both Android and iOS and have reached almost 25 billion worldwide. That figure does not include any downloads from previous quarters or any re-installs; instead, it includes only new downloads.

According to 451 Research, the increasing number of smartphone users worldwide is the main factor driving worldwide demand for mobile applications. The study suggests that there are approximately 2.64 billion consumers who are currently using mobile apps on a regular basis, and this number is expected to grow to around 3.13 billion by the end of next year.

How alternative app stores could help developers

The research outlines the business advantages of alternative Android app stores. The rising number of alternative app stores is an ideal opportunity for developers to promote and distribute their apps in unique ways. Further, third-party Android app stores enable developers to commit to regional distribution and target their audiences even more efficiently. Eventually, the digital app marketplace might become similar to physical markets in which a strong distribution network is as important as having a quality product.

“Rather than battle for shelf-space on the digital shelves of the two major app stores, app developers and app marketers should branch out and tap new, uncontested markets they can reach by publishing their apps across alternative app stores,” says Peggy Anne Salz, chief analyst of MobileGroove (a research and consulting firm focused on business transformation, mobile apps, and contextual marketing and engagement).

According to 451 Research, publishing apps in the Google Play Store and on alternative app stores is a big opportunity, but it is time-consuming and costly as well. To identify relevant markets and app stores, developers require good business intelligence.

Some of the third-party stores include the Amazon Appstore, which reaches over 200 countries and offers over 600,000 apps, and the China-based Myapp Tencent Store, which has over 800 million monthly active users and 6 million applications, notes IT News Online. Another is F-Droid, a free and open-source Android App repository. This alternative Android App Store recently received a user interface update after sporting almost the same look for almost six years, according to AndroidCommunity.