A Guide to the 14 Leading App Stores (2023)

Everything developers and marketers need to know about the leading app stores, from the Play Store and App Store to Aptoide and AppGallery.

A Guide to the 14 Leading App Stores (1)

If you know anything about App Store Optimisation, you’ll know about the Google Play Storeand the Apple App Store. They both launched in 2008 and continue to be huge successes.

While the App Store and Google Play Store are still the leading app stores in terms of popularity, there are a handful of other growing app stores. Depending on the type of app you’ve built and your demographics, branching into other stores can open your app up to a whole new world of users.

Today, we’re taking you through every single app store you need to know about in 2021.

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Let’s start with the Google Play Store. It was one of the first to launch back in 2008, and the giant doesn’t just limit itself to applications. You can find movies, books and other content, making it one of the most diverse stores out there.

Although iOS may be the most popular operating system in the US and UK, Android is the preferred mobile operating system for 72.2% of all smartphones in the world. With Google Play Store being the official Android app store, apps that want to go worldwide really need to get on it.

“There are 3.5 million apps on the Google Play Store. That proves how attractive the users there are — but it also means that the competition is enormous.

Your app might have the potential to improve thousands, or millions, of people’s lives. But even being discovered is difficult. You need to have a really thorough understanding of both your target market and the Play Store’s specific optimisations.”

Jinwoo, ASO & App Marketer

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Next on the list: the Apple App Store. It is the official iOS application store, and it’s the only source to download apps on Apple devices, like iPhones and iPads.

There are over 2 million apps on the Apple App Store and around 26% of smartphone users globally use iOS. Although the number of users is far lower than Android, in 2020, the annual iOS app revenue was $72.3 billion, and for Google, it was $38.6 billion. This is indicative of the fact that apps on iOS are usually much more profitable, and there are a couple of reasons for that:

  • iOS users are limited to the Apple App Store — they can’t download their applications from elsewhere. Therefore, paid applications are more popular, and users are willing to pay.
  • The average price of an iPhone is higher than for an Android phone, and, generally, those with an iPhone have a higher income. That translates into being more willing to spend money on apps and in-app purchases.
  • iOS is most popular in North America, Japan and the UK, three countries with a high purchasing power.

The key takeaway? If you’re serious about monetisation, you’ll likely want your app listed, and optimised, on the Apple App Store.

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Among other device manufacturers, Samsung offers its own app store. In a bid to strengthen their end-to-end user journey, provide a more branded experience, and increase revenue, they launched the Galaxy Store in 2009, just a year after the Apple Store and the Play Store.

Samsung is a direct competitor to Google, since it is targeting Android users. Not all applications that are available on the Google Play Store, however, are available on Samsung as well. That said, more and more developers are discovering the power of branded app stores and uploading their apps on them.

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LG is another example of a device manufacturer that’s seen the benefits of having its own app store. However, it’s considerably smaller, with way less apps available. Why? There just aren’t many developers uploading their apps yet, since the LG SmartWorld app store isn’t just meant for smartphones. A lot of apps offered are only available on LG TVs and LG appliances.

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Secretly waiting for this one? There’s a lot of buzz around the Huawei app store, since Huawei is no longer allowed to use Google services. This automatically means that Huawei users are limited to their device manufacturer app store, similar to Apple users.

Huawei’s market presence has been growing exponentially for years and still is. They are gaining a lot of customers by offering cutting-edge technology and innovations. Their phones operate on Android, so Google Play Store was their main app store, but since the ban, every Huawei phone with a GMS certification after May 2019 doesn’t support the Google Play Store. In order not to lose the millions of Huawei users worldwide, many developers have uploaded their apps to the Huawei AppGallery.

Huawei is also working with top app developers to bring more apps to AppGallery. They supporting smaller app developers too, helping to get their apps out to a global audience. Huawei is a new player on the global map and someone that we will keep an eye on. We are excited to see what will happen with this new app store!

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Following the example of other big brands, Sony launched its app store. The difference here is that it is meant mainly for entertainment, so it’s mostly populated with games and content to play on your Sony TV. Sony, just like LG, is a smaller app store that not a lot of developers are considering. But, if you hit Sony’s target entertainment market, it’s worth uploading your app, and optimising its listing specifically for the Sony app store. Especially for up-and-coming apps, the smaller competition means your app is easier to discover.

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Another competitor of Google is the Amazon Appstore. This eCommerce giant is targeting Android users, and since it is a very well-known name, they have a very high chance of making their store the preferred one for many users. Since they are offering cross-platform services, it is considered one of the top alternatives to Google Play.

On the whole, users take the easiest, most obvious path to download an application. So, even though you can install the Apple App Store on Amazon devices, like the Kindle Fire and Fire Stick, most people don’t. Since Amazon devices come with the Amazon Appstore preinstalled, the store has ensured itself a large base of loyal customers. Since its launch in 2011, the Amazon Appstore has shown very promising growth. They have a very different moderation process to most other app stores — to publish your app on their store, it has to meet specific quality standards.

To make up for those specific quality standards, the Amazon Appstore offers a bunch of helpful functionalities to developers, like an app compatibility test, a cross-platform analytics service, and Appstore Developer Select (a rewards program for developers).

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SlideMe was also founded in 2008 as an alternative app store. This store is allowing users that don’t have Google Play pre-installed to have access to apps. The best part? SlideMe has almost as many applications as Google Play!

SlideMe is a solution that offers a workaround to developers, allowing them to reach markets and devices that they otherwise couldn’t reach. There are both free and paid apps, so it is pretty similar to the Google Play Store. They are working with some device vendors that are selling phones with SlideMe preinstalled. In this way, they can reach niche markets where other app stores are not available. And something great for developers — there is no service fee to upload your application on SlideMe.

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Aptoide is an open-source Android app store that offers a unique solution, allowing developers to create and manage their own branded stores. Currently, Aptoide hosts over 200,000 stores and over 790,000 apps.

For users, Aptoide opens up possibilities for those who are limited by Google Play — like location restrictions or when an app only offers a paid version. For developers, Aptoide is an easier method to get an app to market, since Aptoide’s approval process is less rigorous.

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F-Droid is the only Android mobile app store to offer free and open-source apps in a marketplace. It is not the preferred choice for many brands, because the apps listed have to make their source code available.

Apps targeting tech enthusiasts and amateur developers can reach a great niche audience by uploading their app to F-Droid. It offers super functionality for users, who can create repositories with apps that enable features like user tracking with no pushback from a user base.

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GetJar is an app store with more than 2 billion apps downloaded to date. That number’s not surprising, when you consider that GetJar is available on Android, iOS, Windows and more. It was founded in 2004, and there are over 395,000 registered developers uploading apps. Since it’s free to upload your app, many developers have added GetJar to their app store portfolio.

GetJar’s not perfect, granted. It’s big problem? There are a significant number of apps on the store with viruses. It’s important to do two things to protect your device’s safety before you download an app from GetJar: install a robust anti-virus software and check the app’s credentials.

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AppBrain is a browser app store launched by former Google employees, targeting — you guessed it — Android users. AppBrain allows brands to make their apps more visible in various mobile app stores, including its own, and drive more traffic to their app listings. There are over 1 million applications currently available on AppBrain.

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1Mobile is an up-and-coming app store, targeting the games and entertainment app niche. It’s already got a super loyal customer base, mostly made up of Android users. Feature-wise, they follow in the footsteps of popular app stores like the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, with top chart categories and other content formats available.

Expect 2 days to receive approval or feedback, once you’ve uploaded your app to 1Mobile for verification. 1Mobile is following the same revenue model as the leading app stores: 70/30. 70% of revenue to the developer and 30% of the revenue to the app store. However, stay tuned — lots of app stores are reacting to recent changes from the Play Store and the Apple App Store.

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In 2011, Opera Mobile Store launched and offered apps for all major platforms, such as iOS, Android, Windows and Java. They follow the same basic format as other major app stores — new users will find the categories, features and store listings familiar.

The Opera Mobile Store is very appealing to certain developers, because it guarantees them a reach in many countries where the Google Play Store isn’t available. It also offers free and paid apps, plus a promotional platform to make your app even more successful. So, if you’re launching in a location where the Play Store isn’t available and Android usage is high, the Opera Mobile Store is a great option.

Of course, there are dozens more app stores out there, offering applications for various platforms in almost every country in the world. Each app store has its pros and cons, and it’s important to consider which app stores are right for your app and your target demographic. Uploading an app to a new app store requires a fair bit of time, resource and expertise: you need to develop your app to pass the app store’s regulations, and you need to optimise your app listing for that specific app store.

If you have the resource to cover more app stores, you will benefit from reaching very different user types, with specific niches of loyal users. Some limitations that apply to the two giant app stores, Google Play Store and Apple App Store, don’t apply to, say, 1Mobile or Aptoide.

At Launchpad, we’re watching the app stores in the Asian market super closely — especially in China, since the Google and Apple changes. Stay tuned for further articles, where we’ll be diving into the marketing apps in Asia!

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