GDSA for App Distribution: Promising, Yet Problems

Making the news this week is the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA), an initiative of Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, and (maybe) Huawei. It aims to provide a central site for developers to be able to submit apps to all of the partners’ app distribution channels. And, with an English-language site option, an apparent objective is to help encourage developers from beyond China to publish in those app distribution channels.

This sort of “write once, submit anywhere” approach for app distribution is certainly welcome. I remember delivering an ah hoc presentation on the topic at droidcon UK nearly a decade ago. IMHO, a more powerful solution would be to have a standardized app distribution API, perhaps reminiscent of Google’s for the Play Store. Perhaps that will be added in the future. Still, a central site is better than nothing.

That being said, the site in its current state… well, let’s just say that it needs work. Perhaps it was announced before it was ready — the Reuters article calls it a “prototype”. Plus, for this sort of thing to succeed, beyond the actual site technology, you need the developer advocates who can help with the site content, developer support, and overall evangelism. Right now, I do not see any sign of that.

GSDA has a tough road ahead of it, but it is worth keeping an eye on, particularly if they expand to include other app distribution channels beyond the manufacturer-specific ones currently in the alliance.

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