Teaming up with less-established app stores could help Adobe put pressure on Apple, which won’t let Flash run on its iPhones and iPads. , says Jeffrey Hammond, a principal analyst at Forrester Research. “As a developer, I’m far more likely to submit to alternative stores if the amount of work I have to do for each is minimized,” he says. “Over the next few years, we’re going to see stores springing up all over the place.”
Meanwhile, Adobe gives developers a good reason to use the Flash technology that underlies InMarket. Al Hilwa, program director for applications development software at the research firm IDC, says that if Adobe can succeed with InMarket, and with its efforts to get Flash on viable iPhone competitors such as the newest BlackBerry and Windows 7 phones, “I have no doubt Apple will relent.”
Many alternative app stores are struggling to fill their storefronts with products that attract consumers, says Ilja Laurs, founder and CEO of GetJar, an independent app store that boasts download numbers second only to Apple’s. “There’s a fight going on for developer attention,” he says. Laurs notes that about 95 percent of applications are produced by one-man shops, not big companies, and that these people can’t deal with repeating complex application processes to get their products seen. Instead, they focus on the top app stores.
But Laurs questions whether traffic from alternative stores adds up to anything significant. When GetJar launched, he says, the company focused on forming partnerships with wireless carriers and device manufacturers, offering itself as the app store for more than 50 of those companies. But only 7 percent of GetJar’s downloads come from these partnerships, with the rest coming directly from GetJar’s storefront. As a result, the company has stopped focusing on forming partnerships with alternative app stores.
Gruber could not say for certain whether Adobe would make a deal with a major player such as the Android Market. But the company needs to offer attractive numbers of potential downloads to developers if it wants to bring applications into the stores operated by its smaller partners.