Mobile app stores comparison: I believe Windows Marketplace sucks the most!

There are many App Stores for mobile devices out there, some are successfull and some suck big-time… Why is that? In this article I will try to analyze 6 of the main App stores out there: Apple App Store, Windows Marketplace, Android Market, Blackberry App World, Nokia Ovi Store, Samsung Application Store and search for the reasons behind their success (or doom!).

Success order (my personal opinion):
1) Apple App Store
2) Blackberry App World
3) Nokia Ovi Store
4) Android Market
5) Samsung Application Store
6) Windows Marketplace

* These numbers are estimated by dividing the total apps to the months each store is active.

Apple App Store
Apple’s App store does not need any introduction, it’s the reason all the others decided to make a store of their own and not keep on selling through other companies like ‘Handango’. Apple once again changed the market and the way customers and developers buy and sell software. They surly made it easier for the customer to buy and install software in their phones but much more difficult for the average developer to sell it. Why? Because an average small developer in the past just added his app in a portal like ‘handango’ free and then collected his earnings, now he has to be a company, pay 99$ to register, wait until Apple decide if they like him or not (in my case I waited 6 months!) and then add their app in a fully censored environment. If he is lucky and his App passes into the catalogue, then it can be seen or disappear in the App Store endless lists in criteria only Apple understands and of course decides. Its their choice to say: which app lives in the light and which dies in the shade.

The good:

  • 100.000 apps in there.
  • Many free apps.
  • Cheap apps! Most of them are below 2$.

The bad:

  • Fully censored environment.
  • App Store is the only way to install apps in iPhone.
  • Crap catalogue. There are thousands of demos but Apple calls them ‘lite’ versions. Each app is several times in the catalogue. (Eg: Game, Game Lite, Game 10 times licence, 20, 30, 40, 50…)

Blackberry App World
Is in fact a very promising mobile store. It’s only 8 months open and still has 3300 apps. The catalogue is decent, the presentation is very good and the most important of all, it the only one that supports Paypal!

The good:

  • Paypal billing system.
  • Decent catalogue.
  • They only one that gives 80% to developers. (Others give 70%)

The bad:

  • Many customers experience problems during installation of apps.
  • Can be viewed in some limited Countries only.
  • Expensive apps.
  • Bills 200$ per developer to register.

Nokia Ovi Store
It seems that Nokia has put much effort on promoting this store. It seems very crucial to them. I see the Ovi logo everywhere: tv, internet, sports…  But if you are Nokia, then things are easier for you, the only thing you have to do is to include the Ovi Store program in all your mobile phones that can support it (though an update) and then you have 20 million possible customers! Nice e?

The good:

  • Nice clean catalogue.
  • Is free for developers to register.
  • Much effort from Nokia to promote it.

The bad:

  • Only 2200 apps in 7 months.

Android Market
In my opinion the Android Market is a disaster! Google, a huge company with endless of dollars could do much better… Ok, they have gathered 10.000 apps in 14 months but as everyone says most of these apps are crap! Why is that? It’s very easy to explain: They only allow developers of 9 Countries to publish paid apps! 9 countries only!!! I don’t get this… why do they even care where the developer that created an app live? Why limit the developing ideas so much? They may say because ‘Google checkout’ billing system cannot cope to pay developers in other countries than these 9, and I will answer: Then make another system that can! YOU ARE GOOGLE, deal with it!

The good:

  • 10.000 apps in there!
  • Only 25$ fee for developers to register.
  • Cheap prices.

The bad:

  • 10.000 crap apps in there!
  • Developers must live in these 9 countries Google supports in order to sell apps in the store! Otherwise they can only publish free apps.
  • The store’s website is a joke.
  • The store can be used in limited countries only. (Even after 14 months of store existence)

Samsung Application Store
This is a very respectable app store! It may only have 600 apps in these 3 months since it started and it may only be available in Italy, UK and France now but Samsung made a very respectable start. It supports both Pocket PC and Symbian phones and they only charge 10$ per app listing effort (Free until the end of 2009). Their apps are tested thoroughly and thus operate perfectly on their phones. Plus their catalogue has good quality. They promote their store and even started a contest (Developer Challenge 2009) where they offer $100.000 to developers that make innovating apps.  Way to go Samsung!

The good:

  • Quality catalogue!
  • Apps are tested thoroughly, and run perfectly.
  • Promoted a lot. ($100.000 contest running now)

The bad:

  • Only 600 Apps.
  • Available only in Italy, France and UK for now

Microsoft Windows Marketplace
Given the fact that this store is created and handled by the giant company named Microsoft, one would expect that this effort would be equal to Apple’s App Store and maybe better, right? WRONG! In my opinion this is the worst App store out there! They did everything the wrong way, sometimes they make me feel like they try very hard to fail. A logical thinking person would expect that in order to beat the 100.000 apps Apple already has in their store, Microsoft would try to lure developers and vendors in their store right? Wrong! Here is what they do:

  1. They limit their developers to the ones living in a bunch of Countries only.
  2. They charge $99 per year every developer!
  3. They offer 5 free app tries and then charge $99 per try. (So if have a game and fail the tests 5 times you will pay $500)
  4. Developers cannot sell an app in all Countries available; they have to sell it in only one. If you want more then you have to pay $10 per Country!
  5. They even charge $99 per try the free apps! With this done, basically no logical thinking developer will even bother to put a free app in there.
  6. Developers warned them in their own forums but they don’t even seem to care.
  7. They support only 6.5 and 6.1 OS. Why not 5.0 and higher?

On the bright side, the store is live 1-2 months only and has already 400 apps but it feels very wrong! Just like Windows Vista…

The good:

  • Apps are tested thoroughly, and run perfectly.
  • 400 apps in a month.

The bad:

  • Limiting developers to a bunch of Countries.
  • Treating developers like customers.
  • An app cannot target all Countries at once.
  • Expensive to include apps and thus expensive prices.
  • Working only on 6.1 and 6.5 OS.

Imagine that the mobile App Stores battle is a marathon race: then we could say that Apple is leading it, Blackberry-Nokia and Samsung started very promising. Behind them Google can’t find his rhythm when everybody is wondering: Where is Microsoft?


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