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Can Google control Android’s third party markets on Kindle Fire and in China?

by Kristen Nicole

Android and iOS app downloads are expected to hit 25 billion by the end of this year, according to a new report from mobile analytics firm Flurry. That’s more than 300 percent growth in just one year, and that’s great news for Android. The mobile OS has become quite popular around the world, extending the accessibility of smartphone devices to billions of people. But can Google keep a handle on a worldwide market? Third party app stores are seeing a big push with the Amazon Kindle Fire and B&N NOOK Tablet releases, and independent markets in China. These big brand rivals aren’t just looking to sell Android apps, but they’re building mini ecosystems around Google’s open platform, limiting Google’s control over its own OS.

Extending Android ecosystems

Ahead of the Kindle Fire launch, Amazon has updated its Android Appstore app. Version 2.0 has a revamped interface to make it easier to find subscription content, featured items and other apps. The Amazon Appstore has already proved itself a viable alternative to Google’s Android Market, even attracting some developers to launch there first for promotional purposes. ShiftJelly co-founder Russell Ivanovic found it easy to reach top-rank, landing in Amazon’s top 20 paid apps list with only 17 downloads. Nevertheless, the Amazon Appstore still lags behind the official Market, and is looking to boost user interest with the re-launch for the Kindle Fire.

China is also developing an enticing consumer market that’s driving mobile app downloads at a rapid rate. The Flurry report cited above goes on to note an 870 percent increase in China for app session growth between January and October of this year alone. As the Android Market has yet to make an official app store available in China, independent variants have run rampant across the nation. It looks like companies want to take full advantage of China’s mobile interest with app stores complete with reviews, ratings and download links.

Google’s role in Android

Google’s core business remains its search and associated advertising sectors, so even as third parties rework Android’s open platform for their own purposes, Google still has several ways to monetize its OS. But Google will still need a long-term plan for maintaining Android, guiding its ecosystem where it can and extending the right resources to keep Android an attractive alternative to iOS.