App Developers face many challenges, not least of which is the vital step of figuring out where to make your app(s) available. With a plethora of app stores around the world to consider and limited time, an app distribution strategy can feel overwhelming. That’s why we were thrilled to chat with Chris Jones, co-founder of CodeNgo, for his insider tips on helping developers get apps accepted into the right app stores and other factors to consider for getting ahead.
Bio: Chris Jones is the co-founder of CodeNgo (www.codengo.com), the appstore management & distribution platform. He has 19 years of marketing experience with both start-ups and big brands including Adidas America, Mattel & Boost Mobile where he managed the data services portfolio. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
1. If you could give one piece of advice to new App Developers about planning for their app’s successful distribution, what would it be?
Ideally new developers should research and plan their distribution strategy at the same time that they’re developing their product strategy. This includes factoring in key technical requirements for stores beyond the big 2, determining localization opportunities and choosing the right business model(s). This seems like a lot of work but for small and mid-size developers there are a number of companies offering information, tools and services that can make executing your distribution strategy more manageable.
2. What factors should be considered when deciding a distribution strategy or selecting the right app store environment(s)?
First, consider your business model and if it will scale. Pay per download as a model is in decline on Android and makes it more challenging to maximize your distribution options. Second, decide if your app has local or global appeal and thus where it can be placed. Third, determine if you can benefit from localizing your app for some markets. In most cases, for quality apps, the answer to this is yes. Finally, consider expanding your distribution beyond Google Play. If you have a quality app alternative app stores are hungry from great content and your odds of being featured increase significantly.
3. Is there a common mistake that developers make that prevents their apps from being accepted into app stores?
The most common mistake is that developers don’t use enough unique, quality screenshots. Some of the highly curated stores won’t accept the apps and others won’t feature them. If you’re going to take the time to build an app then make sure it looks good in the shop window.
We also see a very common misconception in that developers are unaware that the majority of apps can be submitted to the alternative app stores without changing a single thing to their APK. Even with freemium apps the majority of stores will accept their app without changes.
4. What is the most surprising piece of data or trend that you see happening?
The democratization of app development now means that there are developers everywhere wanting to access global markets. We expect that you’ll see large numbers of Chinese developers beginning to enter Western markets. This will likely happen in emerging app markets like Brazil as well.
5. What advice would you give to developers looking to break into the Chinese market?
First, the rules of the game vary greatly from what you’re likely use to. The Chinese app stores are mainly focused on making money so they’re primarily interested in freemium games. If your app is free or ad supported then you’ll want to have a strong brand and/or be willing to invest to drive downloads. Second, if you’re a game developer, keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of handsets in China do not support 3D games so you will want to factor that into your planning. Third, some stores will allow your app to be published in your name, while others will require a Chinese publisher of record. Finally, since Google Play is a non-factor in the Chinese market, you’ll want to get your app into multiple stores as there is no single dominant player.