Why 10 Billion Apple Apps Sold Means Trouble for Google

Last Updated Jan 25, 2011 4:51 PM EST

Apple (APPL) cleared 10 billion apps sold on Saturday -- an extraordinary number since it launched its app store in July 2008. Meanwhile, the Google (GOOG) app store is making decisions that are hurting customer relations and developer relations. Here's what Google needs to correct to get Android back on track.

Stop blocking publishers
The popular Flash-based gaming website Kongregate launched an Android app last week, but within hours Google pulled it down. It wasn't clear why the app was removed, since Google didn't tell the company, and a week later Kongregate still has no idea why. Sound familiar? It's the same bizarre stonewall strategy Apple used in the past with app developers: Remove the app for a particular reason, but don't inform the publisher why it's being removed. However, even Apple has learned to communicate better with its publishers as it's come to realize they're the bread and butter of the app ecosystem.

At this point, Kongregate is assuming that the free gaming app is in competition with Google's own upcoming gaming app and that's why it was blocked. Regardless of the reason, the company is looking to GetJar, which downloads Android apps independently, to distribute its software.

Google needs to communicate effectively with its publishers and, true to its open source mantra, allow Android to have competition -- even if an app competes with Google's own products.

Allow easy sales
Unlike the Apple App Store, the Google Market makes it difficult for consumers to purchase goods:

  • The search tools don't work
  • In-app billing isn't available
  • Very few updates have happened since it launched
Also unlike the Apple App Store, customers and publisher do not have to go through Google. The Apple App Store may have its issues, but the company has extra incentive to work them out because it is the only way to send out and receive product -- and for Apple to get its 30 percent cut of the app sales price. Google primarily looks at mobile as a way to promote its real financial vehicle -- search -- and it's distressingly obvious that the Google Market is not a priority.

Unfortunately, major publishers, such as Rovio of Angry Birds' fame, are now working outside of Google Market to reach their customers.

Partner with console makers
Finally, Google needs to create some alliances within the video game community to get gamers interested in its hardware. Its mobile competitors are already building steam:

Google can learn a lot from Apple on how to communicate better with publishers, streamline sales, and build alliances.

Photo courtesy of Robert Scoble // CC 2.0

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