The Year of Going Global With Your App

From social media sharing to personalized push notification, 2017 saw a flurry of activity as media companies focused their attention and investment on making changes and improvements to their mobile app presence. This is aimed at extending the life span of their app or increasing user engagement. It’s a smart strategy, but it falls short in today’s hyper-competitive app economy in which the sheer volume of apps coming online every month can make any app marketer anxious. A raft of recent market reports and forecasts from app market data provider App Annie puts this growth into perspective. The app economy will be worth a whopping $6.3 trillion by 2021.

Think about it. The app economy is on track to grow to the size of a nation state. App marketers who are determined to acquire and retain users in this crowded and competitive marketplace have a choice: They can either come up with more ways to compete for users’ attention, or they can pursue a Blue Ocean strategy to target markets where opportunity is untapped and the market is uncontested. The latter—which borrows from the business book of the same title from two INSEAD professors—gets my vote. Embracing this mindset allows app marketers to prepare for an inevitable future.

Currently, the app marketplace is dominated by a duopoly, but it won’t always be that way.  App Annie data shows that downloads from the combination of Google Play and third-party Android stores will eclipse Apple iOS in 2017. Downloads in 2017 for Google Play and third-party Android stores are set to reach 114 billion and 70 billion respectively. This translates into $21 billion in revenues for Google Play, with alternative app stores a close second at $20 billion.

The data tells several stories. First, you can ignore the naysayers who suggest the app economy is losing steam. Second, and most importantly, the time is right to make 2018 the year of going global with your app.

Alternative app store environments offer a variety of benefits, allowing you to boost your profile, reach new audiences, and expand to new markets. Their ranks include some up-and-coming names that you’re sure to see more of in the year ahead.  A prime example is the Amazon Appstore, one of the biggest Android app stores in both reach (236 countries and territories) and rate of growth (600,000-plus apps as of April 2016). Also worth watching is the Opera Mobile Store, the app store owned and operated by Opera that claims to be the third-largest app store, measured by users with a global presence of more than 100 million monthly unique users.

Size does matter, but it’s not the only reason you need to widen your app distribution strategy. Publishing to more app stores gives you valuable visibility into your complete competitive landscape, allowing you to keep track of rivals and alerting you to companies circulating copycat apps that can harm your brand integrity. This is a real and rising concern as big-name media companies and brands cope with the onslaught of what AdAge calls “fake apps.” These rogue and counterfeit apps are growing in numbers and the amount of damage they can do to brand trust, influencing users to delete your app altogether.

It’s not enough to simply distribute your app via alternative app stores. You also have to manage updates and track business intel to make data-informed decisions about your wider mobile app strategy. It’s no coincidence that the startup appScatter is positioning itself to offer companies what its director and CEO, Philip Marcella, calls a “mobile strategy platform.” It’s all about covering the bases in order to grow your app footprint. He tells me that publishing to these app stores may place you in a smaller pool of apps. “But it can also reward you with a stronger presence that allows you to turn occasional users into loyal app advocates.”

Building audience numbers and deepening engagement is the goal of every app marketer. Both can get a massive boost if you embrace a mobile strategy aimed at taking your app to new uncontested marketers where audiences (and opportunities) are waiting.

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