‘Too much choice’ bad for Android app consumers?

by Howard Wolinsky

Consumer choice would seem to be a good thing. No?

PC World makes the case that all the choice among the growing number of Android app stores online is making it difficult for consumers to find the apps they want.

PC World’s Armando Rodriguez said big names, such as Rovio Mobile, maker of the popular Angry Birds series, can readily release their apps in a variety of stores, as Coca-Cola and Pepsi do in brick-and-mortar stories, being none the worse for it.

But he argued that the same won’t hold true for indie developers who have to choose among a growing number of newer Android app stores to peddle their wares.

It’s a far cry from the Apple approach.

When there were fewer Android stores last fall, Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs warned: “This is gonna’ be a mess for both users and developers.

“Contrast this with Apple’s integrated App Store, which offers users the easiest-to-use largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone. Apple’s app store … offers developers one-stop shopping to get their apps to market easily and get paid swiftly.”

Rodriguez said about the Android stores: “So while a small indie game would be buried in the traditional Android Market, that same game could be the number one app in China under a third-party app store. Android has always been about choice, but is there any such thing as having too much choice?”

He added that there are concerns that unsuspecting consumers could pick up malware in some off-brand app store.

Trip Hawkins, CEO of Digital Chocolate, the game company and founder of Electronic Arts, told the Appnation trade show that app developers face major issues in consumer discovery of the products. Most app discovery is through web browsing, driven by search engines, rather than through app stores.

Rodriguez said, “The strategy of selectively choosing which app stores to support -- a concept that many developers favor -- may be more hurtful than helpful. Making people dig through multiple app stores just to find your product sounds like a convoluted way to market your goods.”

There has to be a better way for busy consumers with multiple app stores vying for their attention and business.