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
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:
- Apple has great relationships with big companies like Activision and Electronics Arts (ERTS), and still has the only mobile version of the Unreal Engine
- Microsoft (MSFT) is successfully bringing its console game developers to its mobile phones
- Sony (SNE) will be aiming for the hardcore gaming audience, which means connecting with its console game developers, when it releases the PlayStation Phone