Monday, July 2, 2012

Top Online Software Marketplaces

One of the perks of being a resident entrepreneur at a small consultancy is that you're given more freedom on developing new products. The downside is that with the freedom comes the expectation that you can figure out the nitty-gritty of getting a new product to market, despite having a background in engineering.

On the fortunate side of things, I do have a head full of splendid business ideas which I attribute to 10,000 hours of practice (reading HN, that is). So, I can usually spin up on an idea rather quickly. I can hash through all the technical bits in a jiffy and usually track-down and kill the technical unknowns in good time. The problem always comes when you actually have to start thinking in terms of how to get people to find the product in the marketplace. Here is where fortunate outcomes rely less on fortune and more on sheer willpower, as we shall see.

Turns out, in the last 3-5 years, lots of software marketplaces have sprung up to satisfy the need for developers[1] to get their products to market. That's a great development, but generally what that means is that every marketplace has its own platform and its own low bar for entry. And, because of the low bar, once you get inside the marketplace, the noise is so high that its hard to compete.

So, what's a guy to do if they want to avoid the business software CPC money-pit and get the cost of a customer acquisition down to $0? You have to acquiesce to the demands of the many marketplaces, and build a relevant/related product for each one in the hopes of driving enough traction through to your core application. Ugh! See, willpower.

That said, here is a list of the top marketplaces that you should be launching into with the hopes that you can create a compelling enough product to get to the finish line:


Mobile


Platform Core Marketplaces:

These marketplaces are the well known, OS-centric marketplaces that are generally controlled by the OS manufacturer. The names and standards should be familiar:

  • Apple App Store)
  • Google Play
  • Palm Software Store
  • RIM App World
  • App Catalog (HP/Palm)
  • Nokia Store
  • Windows Phone Marketplace
  • Blackberry Appworld

Third-party Marketplaces:

There are other pay-to-play and free marketplaces where you can list your app for sale. These basically offer a tad more exposure for apps and should be considered supplemental, if not necessary. The importance of these marketplaces is that they help solve the discoverability problem that an OS-centric marketplace can't really solve on its own.

  • Amazon App Store
  • GetJar
  • MobileRated
  • FastApp
  • Handango
  • Samsung Apps
  • Appitalism
  • CellMania
  • Handmark
  • LG Application Store
  • MobiHand
  • Mobspot
  • SlideME
[2]


Web

The mobile marketplaces are certainly the hot commodities these days. However, there is still lots of life left in web stores and platforms. When targeting a $0 customer acquisition spend, one shouldn't ignore these great markets. You'll notice a lot of them are CMS platforms and that isn't a mistake, you might think that Facebook is the promised land of web app distribution, and while it shouldn't be ignored, the CMS platforms are where the most valuable content creators are:

  • Wordpress Plugins
  • Wordpress Themes
  • Blogger Gadget Directory
  • Facebook Apps.
  • Weebly Developer API

And I wish these guys were on par with Weebly in terms of integration, but if you have a crack bizdev team, you can probably reach them:

  • Posterous Developer API
  • Jimdo
  • Yola
  • Wix
  • Webs
  • Bravenet
  • Site2You
  • VistaPrint
  • Homestead

The long tail marketplace, though often sub-par in many ways in terms of reaching an audience, are also an important supplementary tool. Some examples are:

  • BloggerPlugins
  • DivTagTemplates

Well there are plenty more to be sure, but that's about it for me... lots of platforms to build an audience from, and quite simply if you have a lot of time on your hands, its much cheaper than pouring money into Google Adwords. However, this is a long-term strategy, not a short-term one.


[1] They weren't built FOR the developers, I should say, but rather to LEVERAGE developers. I think this distinction is important to keep in mind. Know when you're being used, and account for it.

[2] Sources: http://www.quickstonesoftware.com/blog/2011/04/25/mobile-marketplaces-a-review http://www.pdasnews.com/articles/mobile-app-stores-comparison-i-believe-windows-marketplace-sucks-the-most.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mobile_software_distribution_platforms

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