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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.

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