February 4, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
“So long AppBrain,” one of our readers said on Twitter when the Android Market web store opened its doors on Wednesday. With Google finally making it possible to browse and install apps from a computer, what purpose would AppBrain serve for end users?
Of course, AppBrain, Android Zoom, and other third-party Market browsers aren’t going away quietly. We reached out to a few sites to see what they thought about Google’s new web store, and received common responses to our questions. These sites recognize that Google provides a challenge, but there’s still room for them to outperform the official Market website with useful features (Michael Heller even points out where the new Market falls short).
Bernat Guitart of AndroidZoom says “There’s no fear at all” that people will stop using his website. There were already good third-party sites in competition with his site, but AndroidZoom’s traffic continues to rise. Mathijs Vogelzang of AppBrain is equally bullish, saying that he anticipates some new users who may have discovered AppBrain to opt to use Google Market instead, but feels confident that many will want more.
“We have always seen ourselves as a discovery and sharing service on top of the Android Market,” Vogelzang said. “Most of these features that AppBrain has are not offered by the Google Webstore. In fact, the initial version of AppBrain that we launched 12 months ago already had more features.”
The new Android Market is seen as a browser with limitations, which gives third-party websites hope that they can remain relevant thanks to their discovery options and unique features. AppBrain’s creators feel confident that their hot apps, personalized recommendations, change history, links to extensive reviews, and strong filtering options will keep the thousands of people who use the site coming back.
Guitart meanwhile is confident in AndroidZoom’s ability to “offer users an alternative, easy and reliable way to get all the top apps and that add value to Android developers.” Major changes on the way will make the site even better, he says.
Google is a notorious beta company, so feedback from users will likely lead to the Android team adopting some of the features that make these third-party sites viable. At the moment, these sites remain just as focused to enhancing user experience and aren’t threatened by the competition from Google. In fact, the introduction of the web store may actually help app discovery tools continue to grow.
Ouriel Ohayon of app discovery tool AppsFire told Androinica.com:
“We knew from day one this was going to happen and actually we hoped for it earlier as we needed URL links for apps. Same for social sharing since this is what we need to build AppTrends, our live ranking for apps. So our way is to continue to innovate from the mobile and provide the best discovery experience from there which is still the case to date.”
Android users may not being saying goodbye to these websites and market browsers after all.