November 11, 2011 | by Ben Crawford
I work out regularly, and when I forget my headphones, I’m stuck watching the terrible music/ad channel. Conveniently, one of their ads shows some of the most popular apps on both Android and iOS. This is a good ad for everyone. People may find a new app they’ve never heard of, and the businesses get their money. Win-win-win. However, in the small print, there is a small caveat. These “most popular” apps are based on the Amazon App Store ratings. While, of course, the Apple App store doesn’t have to share the spotlight, the Android Market does, and I began thinking about the implications when this fragmentation actually concerns the general consumer.
For the most part, I enjoy having multiple app stores to dig through as some will have free games or discounts that the others don’t. The best example is Amazon’s store because I’m sure most people only use it for the Free App of the Day. This used to be the case for me too, but Amazon started having nice discounts on some really good apps, so I use it as a viable app store. This competition is always a good thing even though I don’t think Google really has any incentive to discount apps because the majority of Android users solely use the Android Market.
However, when the mass consumers are fed knowledge that isn’t exactly the truth, it borders on the unethical line. When someone goes to the Android Market looking for an app that isn’t there, they could backlash and decide that the Market isn’t worth the trouble. Take Peggle or Plants vs. Zombies for example; those apps were released as Amazon App store exclusives, and they would have been ranked extremely high on the charts had they been in the Market. If a person looked on the Android Market for those apps, they would have been disappointed and perhaps blamed Google for not having something they expected it to have.
The same can be said for apps that are terrible but get high downloads because Amazon has made them free for a day. Then, when a person downloads that “very popular” app, they find it to be of poor quality and don’t trust the content that is being uploaded to the Market. That person starts to ask, “If this is what rises to the top, are the rest of the apps low-quality?” This type of confusion is good for no one, especially consumers.
It isn’t that these ratings are Google’s or Amazon’s fault, but it falls to the consumer to be extra weary in an emerging market – a market that is wrought with inexperienced consumers, a lack of consumer knowledge, differing opinions and facts, and some lacking or even harmful products. However, the moral here isn’t to distrust any and all ads or charts that you see, it’s more to be a savvy consumer.
Each app store has its advantages. Amazon has some great apps that are easy to find because of their ranking system (I’m thinking of Quell, which is ranked higher than Angry Birds). Getjar offers tons of apps that get released exclusively or with great discounts. Gameloft might release the highest quality games out there, even if their store is frustrating. And the Android Market is the most accessible and secure. All of these choices are for the smart consumer, and they make Android better and unique. So be the smart consumer, and enjoy the plethora of options that you can only find with Android.