How Android app stores fail to attract developers

If you've been developing apps for Android, such as ReignDesign's Pig Rush and Bible Promises, you'll know that there's a large number of competing App Stores for Android. Barely a week goes by without another email inviting us to submit our apps to a new store. As well as the Google-backed Android Marketplace, there's Amazon's new store, GetJar, Verizon, Pdassi, Appoke, Handster, AndSpot, Lenovo ...

Going through the application processes can be very time-consuming. Most developers would rather spend their time on developing cool new features than filling out long forms! So, how can app stores be more developer-friendly, and hence attract more developers with top apps.

1. Provide case-studies of successful apps

Unless you're a familiar brand like Amazon, you need to work for developer's mindshare. Provide case studies of apps which have been successful on your store. Saying "Game X has been on the store for 3 months and has had over 300,000 downloads" is compelling.

2. Display any restrictions at the start of the application process

If you only accept free apps, or paid apps, or developers based in the United States, or APKs less than 10MB, say so at the beginning; not after a lengthy signup process.

3. Make an intuitive developer site

If the first experience a user has with your app store is a confusing mass of links and poorly designed forms, they probably won't make it through the application process. Ensure that you can accept uploads of binaries, screenshots, etc via the web. Don't use an FTP site, or expect people to attach large files to email.

4. Pre-fill what you can

If you can already pull in the title, description and screenshots for the app from the Android Marketplace, do so. Typing in an app description for the tenth time is frustrating. Be flexible about the lengths of fields, and don't make every field compulsory.

5. Simplify financial and tax requirements

Verizon have an incredibly convoluted process for completing tax and financial forms to appear on their app store. There's no doubt that paying developers in various countries is a challenging problem. But it's a problem other companies have solved. Consider only requiring financial forms to be filled in after the initial signup process.

6. Show developers how their app appears on your store

On many app stores, after an app is submitted, it can be very hard to actually locate the app on the store. Simplify this by providing an easy link to see the "public" view of an app. Often, we'll want to refine the images/text after seeing the live app in context.

7. Reporting, reporting, reporting

Provide as much data as you can to developers about how people are discovering their app, and who is downloading. Basic download numbers by date - ok. Device/OS version data - good. Search terms used to find your app, demographic data, retention rates - great.

This man is tired of submitting to App Stores.
Matt Mayer

Matt Mayer is a founder at ReignDesign. Matt is from the UK and was based in Shanghai for ten years. He is now living in Bangkok, Thailand.

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