Uptodown: An alternative to Google Play
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
We recently spoke with Luis Hernandez Garrido, CEO of Uptodown, to hear more about how Uptodown is an alternative to Google Play, which guarantees users and developers the right to choose where to get their apps and games from and improves privacy.
The Uptodown app market has more than 130 million active users per month, and more than 450 monthly downloads of their more than 4 million APKs available. The company operates worldwide and it is localized to 15 different languages. The Spanish-based company was born in 2020 in Málaga and founded as a University Project in 2002. Recently we interviewed Luis Hernandez Garrido, CEO of Uptodown, to hear more about Uptodown joining the Unity Distribution Portal.
ADM: Why having a variety of app markets is important for app developers?
Garrido: Until recently, Android has operated de facto as an industry monopolized by Google services. The lack of global options and large enough audiences to publish and sell their apps put the developer at a disadvantage when it comes to freely offering their product on their own terms and conditions.
We believe that a more open scenario, which guarantees users and developers the right to choose where to get their apps and games from, fits better with the Android philosophy. The alternative to this is the Apple model with iOS.
ADM: Why would a user choose Uptodown among all the App markets available? And why a developer should make sure their app is available there?
Garrido: From a user perspective, Uptodown offers a simpler solution - a direct browser experience, if that's what you’re looking for. We offer better privacy, there’s no need to open an account or enter your payment information from the get-go, and you can use any device in any region in the world without limitations. You don’t even need a store (not even Uptodown's), Google Play, or any other third-party services.
From the developer side, Uptodown is the only stand-alone solution that allows you to monetize your game or App by simply distributing your APK through the browser. This feature alongside our global reach, large user base (130M MAUs), and our own editorial content to improve your SEO and visibility make us a very powerful alternative to Google Play.
ADM: What does Uptodown in terms of safety for the user? This is a key topic among App markets. What measures do you take to guarantee the security of the applications you offer?
Garrido: One of our biggest challenges when competing with Google Play is providing security. As we’ve continued to grow, we’ve discovered that our processes (which require our in-house editors and at times the use of automatization) are actually a lot safer than Google itself.
All the content in Uptodown is thoroughly scanned by VirusTotal. This service analyzes all of Uptodown’s content with over 60 antiviruses.
In terms of maximizing transparency, we classify this information according to whether it provides a real threat or not, which is how we deal with apps that show up as false positives due to adware, or apps that don’t pose any threat. From there, we provide that information to our users. All the information we receive about viruses or potential threats is published and available on our site for them to use as a resource.
Uptodown: An alternative to Google Play
Our users decide what to do with that information and whether or not they ultimately download an app. Providing this security information to our users allows us to publish a widely diverse set of apps in our catalog, including apps that toe the line in terms of censorship due to their content, but that is, in effect, legal and safe to download.
Due to the 100% legal nature of our content, we do not have to take on the role of policing censorship, and instead, our users are the ones who decide which apps they want to download.
ADM: How and why was Uptodown created, and how has it evolved over the years?
Garrido: The issue is as relevant now as it was 19 years ago, how do we make it easier for the user to access software (either desktop or apps), and how do we offer better and more powerful tools to those who develop them?
We keep working with this idea in mind, adapting to the trends and platforms chosen by the community, as in the case of Android since 2010.
As a means to achieve this, we continue to believe in the web as a platform that's more accessible and simple. We also have our own native app (Uptodown App Store), but as I mentioned, it's not even necessary to use the IAPs system included in the APK. Also, if the user doesn’t require other more powerful features such as the automatic update of their games and apps, they can access the content with a simple browser.
ADM: Where is your traffic coming from? Which are the countries you see as expansion potentials?
Garrido: The 450M monthly downloads are distributed all over the world, our high volume countries being in Europe, Asia, and America.
Some of the key players are precisely those that are experiencing a phase of economic development: India, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, or even Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey. The only country that is pushing back is China because of our policy of openness and transparency in terms of content.
ADM: What were the most downloaded apps and games in 2020 through Uptodown? Were you able to detect some trends in in-app use, during the pandemic year? Which categories are the most downloaded?
Garrido: Undoubtedly, lockdown over the first few months of the year due to COVID-19 caused the numbers of certain types of apps to skyrocket. The Zoom video call app has been one of the most downloaded, and as far as video games are concerned, the battle royale genre and in particular, the different versions of PUBG Mobile and Free Fire have topped the download charts throughout these months.
ADM: On 23rd March you announced an important agreement with Unity. Can you explain to us what it consists of and how it can benefit users and developers?
Garrido: For the first time, users will have a global and independent alternative to obtain and access any game and all its features (paid or not).
Until recently, you either needed Google Play Services and a major manufacturer's device or you could only have the complete experience using local distribution (specific markets where there is a store with a certain distribution capacity). Uptodown is going to break this dynamic globally thanks to the connection of Unity and the developers themselves.
Unity (NYSE: U), the world's leading platform for creating and managing 3D content in real-time (RT3D) and the largest game design tool available, contacted us two years ago. Since then, we have been working on this project together.
Through them, we offer the developer a fast, one-click, and instant way to incorporate our payment system (SDK) while ensuring that the user-side experience is also fast, secure, and easy.
By combining Unity's access to developers with our own audience we have a solution that connects both communities in the most direct way possible.
ADM: What can we expect from Uptodown in the future?
Garrido: There is a growing demand for simple and transparent access to mobile apps. Users don't need to understand or care about the type of device they’re using, where they’re using it from, or whether they need special access from a third party such as a Google account.
For us, it's not just about improving the user experience. A huge amount of information and entertainment is being consumed through mobile apps. We cannot leave this channel exclusively in the hands of the big tech companies whose interests sometimes don’t align with those of the people.
Uptodown will always be an independent tool designed to improve our privacy, guarantee freedom of choice, and free access to content for users.
About Luis Hernandez Garrido
Luis Hernandez Garrido, CEO of Uptodown, continued his studies at Harvard University (Harvard Business School, 2014), where he expanded his training in sustainable product development to then apply it to this project. He also participated in various initiatives to connect students and the technology industry via University and Schools (speaker at Google Activate) and promoted events such as the Barcamp
to boost the local technology industry.
Uptodown also includes an R&D area that was launched in 2015 through the Harvard Innovation Lab for students of this prestigious institution to publish their Apps, as well as to facilitate collaboration between this university and private enterprises in the U.S. It also collaborates with different projects such as Puppy Cube, which transforms any surface into a touchscreen, bringing Android to multiple devices and new form factors.
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