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You don't need root to install arbitrary APKs, and I don't understand #1. How is this any different from, e.g. apt-get? It's just a mechanism for easily obtaining and updating some vetted packages.

99%+ of people willing to pay money for software have no idea what an APK is, what apt-get is, etc.. "App stores" serve a purpose. They are software catalogs for the general public, and the vast majority of the time if your app isn't in one of the major app stores it means it won't get purchased/downloaded.

What is your preferred alternative?

Anyone who wants to install a non-Play Store app, can. If you're someone looking at a piece of software on the internet, the application's website can easily offer you instructions on how to download and install their software. This is exactly how Windows has always operated.

A perfect example of this working well on Android is the Amazon Appstore. Disregarding for a second the meta-ness of it being another app market, they do a great job of explaining to the average user how to download their software (by pushing it to them through email, text, etc.), "allow non-Market applications" and install the APK. Sure, not every user is capable of doing this, but I think anyone who has helped non-technical family can attest to the fact that the same is true on Windows.

Please note that I didn't say "Play", I said "app store" and my parent said "app store equivalent". Amazon Appstore falls under both umbrellas.

True, but I think you're missing the point that competition between app stores can mitigate the worst aspects of the app store model.

That is a very valid point, but it is not the point that was brought up in this thread.

The general public doesn't know how to side-load, just as they have no idea what apt-get is. Being blocked from the market is a sufficient barrier to effectively kill an app from broad distribution.

Which applies to any centralized 'marketplace' for apps that's popular enough; whether that's Apple's App Store, Google Play, Valve's Steam, or Ubuntu's Software Center (and all other linux package managers for that matter). So, I'm not entirely sure what the argument is here...? If people wan't to define that as 'closed', that's cool, conceptually I could see how that makes sense. But again, I never hear that term being used to describe Linux package managers like I mentioned above, so I'm not sure what the distinction might be between them and something as lenient for acceptance as the Play store. Is it the 'killswitch' that makes a system closed or what?

Windows never had a repository system so devs had to advertise and distribute their .exe's independently, giving the ecosystem that feel of 'open-ness'. But the second you have a semi-curated centralized repository system available like on Ubuntu or Android, the system becomes 'closed' because it effectively creates this 'barrier' you mentioned due to the new convenience. So is there no middle-ground here?

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