Fortnite has become one of the biggest app sensations of the year, despite only being available on iOS for nearly six months. That’s recently changed, as developer Epic Games finally brought the app to Android – but, notably, not to the Google Play app store.
It’s a big play by Epic, attempting to keep the full amount spent on in-app purchases for itself rather than paying a cut to Google. But for the broader app ecosystem, it feels like a potential watershed moment.
This is likely to be the first time many users sideload an app directly onto their device. It remains to be seen whether this has any impact on how consumers view the Play Store, but it’s certainly interesting to see such a popular consumer app encourage this behaviour, given that it’s the way many enterprise apps reach their intended audience.
If you are, for example, a supermarket brand, you’re unlikely to want a sales enablement app for employees to appear publicly on the app store next to your consumer apps. This isn’t the only issue facing enterprise apps on the app stores – we worked with one client whose HR app was rejected by the iOS App Store because it wasn’t a consumer app, and had to add a public-facing element in order to be permitted.
Sideloading – installing an APK file directly onto a device – is one solution, but it’s only an option for Android apps. And it may not be the best choice for your business. Fortnite’s release has highlighted problems with users installing the wrong APK, after users searching for the game were directed towards malware-laden imitators.
So what are the alternatives?
Ideally, for iOS, you should utilise Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program. There’s an annual cost of $300, and all users have to be registered as employees of the company, but it’s the easiest solution for distributing enterprise apps to a large number of internal users.
On Android, we advise the enterprise version of Google Play is used by enterprises and their employees to access a rich ecosystem of work and productivity apps. If that isn’t an option, then sideloading is the only real way to bypass the store.
If you do go down the sideloading route for your Android enterprise app, and users have to handle installation on their own devices, consider that users might need supporting through the process. We work with one FMCG client which sideloads all of its apps, and presents users with a landing page to help to onboard them.
This, however, is where we’re likely to see the biggest impact of Fortnite circumventing the Play Store. It should introduce millions to the concept of sideloading, and help normalise the idea of installing apps without having to go via one of the two big app stores.