A Brief History of the Android App Store Race

Android was publicly announced on November 5, 2007, followed by the SDK release on November 12th, 2007. A few days later, HelloAndroid.com comes out with an Application Database, which could be considered the first Android catalog.

Around the same time, a couple other guys and I form SlideME, starting work on an application manager and portal for Android. We decide to enter the ADC I with our solution.

On March 20th, Sadko Mobile announces DroidStor, a commercial solution.

TrackDroid releases on April 4th 2008. This was the first release of an Android client for installing applications. As far as I can tell, they are completely defunct now. SlideME releases one week later. A few hours after our announce, HelloAndroid announces they are going to be entering the content delivery space, turning their catalog into a delivery system. So that's how this tiny space looked in April of 2008: three little guys looking to duke it out. DroidStor a big unknown.

We soon find that many Android developers don't know what an application manager is, nor do they consider it very important. So we go to the lists explaining the concept, which many developers struggle with initially. But the general consensus is that they like the idea of downloading and managing applications, but they want Google to do it instead. Inside SlideME, we refer to this as Googleitis, a disease which still inflicts itself across the Android community.

And then in May, Google announces they are coming up with an application gallery (App Store). We are left with a buggy SDK (very buggy in regards to installing) and a genuine wonderment as to whether Google is really going to open the platform; so we wait, not doing much in the way of development.

July 10th, Apple launches their store. The Android SDK is still closed, with no public releases.

August 18th, Google releases a version of the Android SDK. August 28th, Google announces the Android Market. September 23rd, SDK 1.0 releases. It's the first SDK we can develop on that handles actual installs. So we get to work. By this point, it looks like we are the only player publicly in the game, outside of Google.

On September 29th, Handango announces support for application delivery and billing. We expect this and are not too concerned. Handango charges 50% to the developer and has a terrible delivery model.

On October 2nd, Al Sutton announces AndAppStore. It looks like yet another catalog, so we don't give it much notice.

Users start getting G1s and accessing Google's market prior to the official October 22nd launch.

On October 23rd, SlideME releases SAM, our mobile client for the G1. Google still has their Android Market closed to the general developer community, so we see a spike in content stocked at SlideME, as well as G1 users hungry for new apps that aren't on the Android Market.

We are due to roll out billing the following week, but find out that we don't have the tax issues completely sorted, not by a long shot. Traffic tanks after Android Market opens to general developer community.

November 4th, AndroidGuys announces their own branded Android Store with the backing of Mobihand. This genuinely surprises us. We don't see this coming. In the early days, we shared information but this certainly put up some barriers.

November 17th, AndAppStore releases a client. We expect this but we also take more immediate notice. Al is growing AndAppStore very quickly.

November 18th, Mogees releases a clever solution that allows developers to embed code in their applications for trials and billing. By all accounts, it's very popular but Google quickly yanks those developer applications from the Android Market.

PocketGear enters the game on November 24th, but it really is just another Handango-Mobihand type web-based model. We know a lot more of these types of guys are going to follow. So by this time we see this division of companies doing the traditional, cheap-entry model of delivering and charging for content over the web. And those opting for client based models: Google, SlideME and AndAppStore.

By late December, we finally have the tax issues sorted. It requires a re-implementation of our system to handle them.

The following month, on January 29th, we release SAM 2.3, which officially opens our support for paid applications. We announce support for global billing and delivery. Behind the scenes, we see a lot of interest from some big players, including possible rebranding of our solution. We have the only client out there that handles paid applications.

On February 13th, Google announces that paid support will be coming to the Android Market in the following week. The community finds out how limited the billing options are. AndAppStore seems to be considering a foray into the content aggregation market to get international developers into the Android Market. We decide we definitely don't want to go there.

To be continued.....