Distribution is a set of activities that provide the movement of goods from the stage of production to consumption by customers. Distribution requires continues transformation of material and information flows which move from producer to consumer.
The distribution of services provides the convenient conditions for the realization of services for the client in terms of location, time and form. There is no physical movement of services in this type of distribution. It is based on forms of payment, booking and transfer of information about services.
Distribution of goods means the implementation of a set of vital logistics activities needed to supply the goods to the end user. Thus, distribution logistics includes not only the receipt of products but also the storage and shipment to the client.
There are two main factors in the process of distribution: logistics (the actual delivery of the products to the end user) and the type of distribution channels. Distribution channel is a system of business partners and often intermediaries that participate in service or product delivery to the customer. All types of distributors, wholesalers, internet services, retailers etc. can play the role of distribution channel. There are two types of distribution channels: direct and indirect. The direct distribution channel offers the buyer to get the product directly from the producer. Indirect distribution channel provides customer with the services of retailer or other 3rd party company. (investopedia) Good organized combination of distribution channels is an essential aspect of the enterprie, since it has a significant impact on the financial performance.
Mobile app distribution channels
Mobile application can be created as a service or as a final product but it can be a mixture of both. This phenomena of mobile applications provides them with a good variety of distribution channels. Below the most popular mobile application distribution channels are described.
One of the most popular way to distribute the mobile application these days is a service of application stores. There is a big number of application stores in the modern digital market: Apple Appstore with the content for smartphones and tablets working under IOS Operating system; Google Play with the software for Android devices, Nokia’s Ovi Store for Nokia gadgets, Microsoft Windows Phone Market and a great amount of independent application stores.
Pre-loads is a very attractive distribution channel for developers nowadays. The service of pre-installation is quite costly for application provider; however, this channel is one of the most effective for distribution. In addition, there is a high competition among developers to have their applications pre-installed on the exact device.
Web Discovery optimization
Discovery optimization of the developer’s WEB site in the popular internet search engines can be a vital solution for the product distribution. Link for the application or the widget may be situated on the web page of the popular site or on the page of social network. The link will directly bring the users to the appropriate application download page according to the operating system of the device.
Exclusive review by the press recommended itself as a good way to promote the product or service long time ago. These days press review is still a very effective solution to distribute the product. Mobile software products are not an exclusion. A good payed PR campaign in the press or social media can promise a success for a qualitative product.
Pay-Per-Installs as a method of mobile application promotion which provides users with the reward for the application downloads. The reward can be represented by real money or by virtual goods and bonuses. Mobile applications providers have possibility to fix own limits for the budget per day and target the segment of customers they need to reach in the first place.
Free downloads offer in a fixed period of time can be a good distribution solution. If the mobile application will be appreciated by users downloaded it for free, the payed version of the product will be promoted by the world of mouth and high ratings of the application.
Mobile Web Version of the application
Online mobile version of application can provide a noticeably wide spread of the digital product. The distribution channel of this type allows to bring the application to the devices with different operating systems via WEB. The customer can use the application in the WEB browser of his device, additionally, most of operating systems allows users to save links to such applications on the home screen of the device which makes the use of the software convenient.
TV advertisement is a good and efficient solution for the mobile application developers. The use of this distribution channel is not significantly expensive these days and makes the product noticed by the big segment of people. The disadvantage of the channel is a poor reputation caused by prospected forgery of application developers. However, if the advertisement has a clear message that there will be no additional fees after installation of the application, the campaign still can be successful.
Mobile health application distribution Channels
According to the research of Research2Guidance (2017) Health insurers became the number one distribution channel in the market of mobile health applications and was predicted to keep the place of important distribution channel in future.
Before 2017 application stores were the best distribution channel for medical applications, however, health insurers slightly growing over the years overtook application markets in means of application distribution. Other mHealth distribution channels lost their popularity in last few years. Physicians and hospitals were considered as most efficient distributors in 2010, but these days publishers prefer to use application stores and health insurers avoiding other popular in the past channels including pharmacies and healthcare webpages.
Mobile application distribution in China
Chinese mobile market with approximately half a billion prospective users is often attractive for western developers. However, Chinese mobile application market is not easy to enter. The most of Google services including Google Play are banned in the country. This phenomena caused the emergence of large amount of local application stores. Rapid publishing of Android applications is not possible in this market. All the details of application promotion such as rating or place in the top is usually discussed with the application store.
There are more than 200 application stores in China and all of them have different requirements for mobile applications developers. The income from the application depends on the application market. The most part of the income usually goes to the application store. To enter the Chinese market of mobile applications connections are needed. Before the product release all the details of publishing are discussed between developers and application stores managers; developer provides the localization of application and sends the APK (android application package) file to the appstore.
Application distribution through Apple Appstore in China will be noticeably easier for software developers in comparison with distribution through local android markets. Apple provides the strict regulations for the publishing process in its application store and allows users to purchase digital products via the popular service UnionPay. Developers only need to provide the localization of the application for Chinese language.
Another popular distribution channel for mobile application in China is pre-installation. The new Android smartphones in the country are sold with some amount of pre-installed applications. Application pre-installation adds more value to the device and allows the developer of this application to distribute the product effectively. However, there is a high competition among applications to be installed on the mobile devices of popular brands before sales. In addition, there are strict regulations announced by the Chinese authorities in 2013 about the software that can pre-installed by mobile device manufacturers.