From day one of the Android Market, there have been a few titles that seem to be firmly sitting atop the list of “Most Popular” apps. Titles like The Weather Channel, MySpace Mobile, and ShopSavvy have wrestled their way into the top three spots and seem as if they won’t be letting go for quite some time. In fact, after 6 months, the 10-20 most popular overall apps in the Android Market appear poised to stay there. This poses the question – Can a new developer ever expect to get their title(s) listed near the top?

As each new Android owner starts off looking for new apps, the first place they are inclined to look will undoubtedly be the most downloaded titles.  What are other people getting for their G1 or Android handset?  When they look at the sheer number of downloads, they’ll likely assume that they’d be missing the boat if they don’t get them for themselves.  My guess is that this alone will probably keep these apps in these top spots.

Here’s the thing, all of these apps at the top of the heap are great in their own ways.  Most of them have been loaded on my G1 and have stayed there.  The real dilemma comes when a potentially killer app from a small developer or big company is released.  Unless you keep checking the latest additions, you’re likely going to miss the app’s arrival.  As time goes, the number of apps will compound, much in the way Apple’s App Store has grown.  It will be harder and harder to grab attention and keep it.

Fortunately, Android developers don’t have to worry about the Market in the same manner that Apple developers do.  Anyone can opt release their app in anyway they see fit.  Have a personal blog or corporate website? Go ahead and put direct links to your programs there.  You can go about promoting your app in whatever fashion you deem best.  However, it brings us back to the original problem.  If there are dozens of application stores and a myriad of ways to get software, how does one make sure his/her app gets noticed?

Apple has a leg up in this regard.  By essentially forcing people to play by their rules and get apps in one centralized location, they at least put all developers in the same boat.  On the other hand, it’s an even worse situation over there than it is here in the Android Market.  Try getting your latest release noticed in a sea of 25,000 applications.

It’s a tough situation to be in for sure.  This is where you have to put together a full game plan if you expect to do well beyond a simple spike in traffic and a few days of interest.  You’ll need to couple great word of mouth, branding, and more if you want to succeed in the long term.  Oh, and you’d better have a decent offering too.

Mark Murphy has a great piece up on Network World that addresses this, and other similar problems, from a developer’s perspective.  What can one do to ensure that their app stays relevant and on the tips of everyone’s tongues?  His AndroidGuys article from earlier this week also brings to light many questions that developers need to think about when putting forth an app.

You Tell Us

I’d love to get feedback on this.  Any Android owners out there who are having a difficult time finding great apps outside of the most popular titles?  How about developers?  What do you think could help improve your odds?  What will happen when the floodgates really open up and new apps come start rolling in?

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  1. i gave up on the market about two days after the paid apps went live. theres no point. it was already almost impossible to browse the market, and now it is absolutely ridiculous. i see this as a good thing, actually, because i dont need to be spending money on impulse-buy trinkets, and my phone already does everything i need it to now anyway. but its definitely money lost for google and the market developers, because i WOULD do impulse buys for this and that if i had an effective way to browse.

  2. I agree, it seems that most users don't scroll down in any category. This is also the experience in Apple's AppStore. It would be good if the more recent history in the market gets a stronger weighting than the ancient history. This is true for downloads as well as comments/ratings. Of course the early winners of the categories will still have the edge, but it wouldn't be that sharp. I like the new approach of the AppStore. They will now have a per version rating/commenting. That sounds like the right direction to me.

  3. I check the market multiple times everyday but I know a day will come when I won't be able to check it for a few days – perhaps due to travel. I will then have to rely on the popular apps tab which as this article alludes to is just not a great way to discover new apps. The store needs a way to filter for recently released apps that are popular relative to other new apps. Perhaps simply adding the ability to filter the popular apps by date might do the trick. Another suggestion would be to mark a list as 'seen' kind of like marking Google Reader items or email as 'read'. They could then give us the ability to filter the lists to only show unseen items.

  4. Hopefully Google will be rolling out more ways to search and filter the Market in-phone, as well as a way to browse the entire market from your desktop. Third-party sites are already starting to step in to fill this second need. is one that has really cool feature: each app's writeup has a 2D barcode on it that you can scan with your phone (use "Barcode Scanner" by ZXing Team), allowing you to jump right to its page on the Market.

  5. Last time I checked even the top apps hadn't even sold 5k copies. Seems to kinda discourage even bothering.

  6. @Ben, thanks for the tip. Cyrket actually gives me everything I need. I have subscribed to the rss feed for newest apps. This way, if I'm ever away for a while I can just look at the newest apps since my last review. I can also filter out the things I'm not interested in – like comics etc.

  7. I wrote an app called The Daily News. The download count has dwindled off completely after it dropped of the "Most Recent" list. I don't see any way to revive it even though it has 4.5 stars/5 and good reviews. Would be nice to a browsable store from the desktop. Would also be nice to browse by update date and not just initial upload date. Or I can leave comments about it on :)

  8. I believe the idea of dethroning an app should not be what is important. But what they need to add is an Platinum Market app, that once it reaches a certain plateau others get added to it (an elite group) so to speak. Greg does have a valid point. Because I am one of those who doesnt like to go to far down ANY list after awhile. Not sure how someone could fix this, but I do believe that there should be one website that ALL apps should be placed on, so anyone could browse (check out content, pics, comments….) on all the apps and make a decision what to download. This may give a better broad view of all apps instead of a 'popularity' or 'by date'. The Android Market website only shows selected apps, and that isnt fair to everyone contributes. T

  9. It is an interesting question – will anyone ever dethrone the current kings in the android market.  It seems every one is expecting a change.  Thanks for sharing nice discussion.

  10. In the world of electronics, the consumer market always expects a change for new and unique.  Few rule for ever.  Yesterday’s trend is forgotten and new one is taking place every now and then. 

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