Amazon Appstore goes live, goes down, comes back up


Amazon's answer to the Android Market is now up and running, despite some early hiccups.

According to Android Police, the Amazon Appstore for Android went live earlier tonight for around 30 minutes before being taken down for an unknown reason. By 8AM EST, the site was back online.

For those who have shopped on any of Amazon's portals, the Appstore (how long the site retains that moniker remains to be seen), will look familiar, with apps divided into logical categories, best seller, paid and free sections. Pages for individual apps are laid out in a similar manner to any other product on Amazon, with screenshots, ratings and product descriptions all present and accounted for.

Amazon will also screen every app before allowing it to appear on the Appstore, an approach far closer to that taken by Apple and a definite step away from the relatively open submission process for the Android Market.

In terms of design, it will largely come down to individual taste, but to this writer the Amazon Appstore appeared much cleaner and easier to navigate than Google's ''native'' offering.


For the next 19 hours, visitors to the store will be greeted with a free copy of Angry Birds Rio, the much-hyped, movie-themed, Amazon-exclusive version of the popular mobile game. For those of you on the Apple side of the fence, the game also launched today on iOS. Amazon will offer one paid app for free each day.

Purchasing apps requires the installation of the Amazon Appstore app on your device, as well as an Amazon account. Users will also need to follow a few simple steps to enable apps to be installed from ''unknown sources''.

Checkout is handled using the company's existing payment infrastructure. The need to install an app before making purchases on the Appstore would seem to contradict a report last month that apps would be able to be purchased from Amazon's store without an Android device and installed at a later date.

But by far the most distinctive feature for many users will be ''Test Drive''. As the name suggests, the feature allows users to test out apps in a browser before purchasing or downloading them to an Android device. Much of Test Drive's front-end uses Flash, while the back-end code runs on Amazon's cloud infrastructure. As of 8AM EST, however, Amazon still appeared to be working out a few kinks - Test Drive worked briefly before all references to the feature disappeared from the Appstore.


Behind the scenes, Amazon is also working to differentiate itself, giving developers 70% of the sale price of the app or 20% of the list price, whichever is greater. The list price is set by the developer when they submit their app and essentially equates to the apps ''Recommended Retail Price''.

Amazon also reserves the right to set app prices themselves, even to the point of making a previously paid app free, though in that case the company guarantees the developer will still get 20% of the list price. With apps able to be listed on both the Android Market and Amazon's store simultaneously, the implication here is that Amazon will have the power to discount apps to make their own offerings more attractive to users.

While Amazon's entry into the world of app stores is certainly attractive, it is not without caveats. Those outside the US are out of luck, as are AT&T customers, though Amazon says it is working with the carrier to fix that. Curiously, download pages also feature a warning that ''some apps will only work on an Android device that has root-level permissions'', before warning that the company ''does not encourage you to root your phone.''

If Amazon can leverage its brand power to get its app store onto Android devices, Google's offering could be in serious trouble, though at present the search giant has the distinct advantage of being the only app store installed by default on every Android phone. It's highly likely Amazon is working feverishly behind the scenes to change that situation.

Image Credit: Android Police

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30 Comments

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bangbang023 said,
It was fun having to root my Atrix just to install this. Thanks for being such a pain in the ass about things, AT&T.

Pretty soon T-Mobile will know the joy you speak of.

Since this is a third party app store, the Android device must also be authorized to allow applications from "unknown sources," and this means AT&T customers do not have access to it.

alexalex said,
Since this is a third party app store, the Android device must also be authorized to allow applications from "unknown sources," and this means AT&T customers do not have access to it.

Sideload Wonder Machine. Google it. You'll be happy you discovered it. Thank AT&T for crippling your device. That's why I always recommend rooting if you know how to do it.

UndergroundWire said,

Sideload Wonder Machine. Google it. You'll be happy you discovered it. Thank AT&T for crippling your device. That's why I always recommend rooting if you know how to do it.

Indeed. Worked like a charm. Outside of free apps of the day though, I think I'll have to wait for AT&T to officially support the Amazon store since using it this way is a pain unless there is an easier way than:

1) Download app from store, get error that app installation is blocked
2a) Connect to PC with SD-card mounted, copy file from amazon cache to PC, disconnect cable
2b) Less painful- connect to PC via bluetooth and xfer file with BT file manager
3) Connect to PC charge-only, install using SWM

Am I missing something? Or is there perchance an Android-side app installer that I could use? I'm sure it would be quite unofficial of course, to be installed via SWD.

I much prefer this app store to the default. It would be awesome to see a deal between Google and Amazon to have the Amazon app store installed by default.. though i doubt it will ever happen.

That's Amazon for you, keeping all their new innovations/products to the US only. Perhaps understandable with physical items but pointless in this situation. Why limit your audience to the US only?

"Amazon also reserves the right to set app prices themselves, even to the point of making a previously paid app free"
That's pretty strange, can't see too many developers liking that

thatguyandrew1992 said,
"Amazon also reserves the right to set app prices themselves, even to the point of making a previously paid app free"
That's pretty strange, can't see too many developers liking that

Well, that could give poor selling applications developers some cash, considering that Amazon, when giving them away for free, will give them 20% of the original price listing (imagine an app that cost 0.99, but only sold a handful of licenses, and after it goes free, is downloaded a couple thousand of times. Not only they will be getting 20% of that, but there is a chance the app gets popular and pricing can return to the original value)

sviola said,

Well, that could give poor selling applications developers some cash, considering that Amazon, when giving them away for free, will give them 20% of the original price listing (imagine an app that cost 0.99, but only sold a handful of licenses, and after it goes free, is downloaded a couple thousand of times. Not only they will be getting 20% of that, but there is a chance the app gets popular and pricing can return to the original value)

Good point!
This could save small devs the market watching as Amazon does it.
Trust me, Amazon is VERY interested too in hitting the price sweet spot!

But mh, a suggestion system could work just fine, too, right?
Ah well!

GS:ios

Bhav said,

Um, because Amazon said so?

Queue the but but but Amazon is a multinational company, they should give europe everyting their american division has also! because i said so! comments

bushbrother said,
Just seen this is US only Why can't this be in Europe too ?

Probably they want to get everything running fine in the US and then move to other geographies.

UndergroundWire said,
Angry Birds Rio FTW. Sorry Apple fans.

Erm what? Its available through the app store on ipad and iphone, but only android in the US via amazon (so limited access) with no current UK release date due to an Amazon exclusivity agreement

UndergroundWire said,

I thought Rio was exclusive to Amazon? That's not the case anymore?

I don't know whether it ever was, but I'll install Rio on my i4 this afternoon

GS:ios

I like what Amazon is trying to do here, but, oye!, this is going to create a lot of headaches for the casual consumer.

So many app stores for Android now and, I assume, they each offer different apps?!

So if you wanted to tell someone to download a particular app, you need to specify the name of the app and where to get it? Seems like nothing to us nerds, but my mom is going to have no idea what I'm talking about.

DukeEsquire said,
So many app stores for Android now and, I assume, they each offer different apps?!

So if you wanted to tell someone to download a particular app, you need to specify the name of the app and where to get it? Seems like nothing to us nerds, but my mom is going to have no idea what I'm talking about.

Look to be all the same apps as the Market and AppBrain Market. Redundant if you ask me.

How long before many more spring up? This could get very confusing for the consumer, and tbh I am already suspicious after reading the "root-level permissions" bit

Since I'm not in the US I shall have to reserve judgement, but I hope our US users give some good feedback

Root-Level Permissions?
I don't see that, at worst you have to tick allow installing from unknown sources - something many Android users will be used to doing if they've installed Apps from anywhere other than the Market Place (i.e. directly from SD card).

Teebor said,
How long before many more spring up? This could get very confusing for the consumer, and tbh I am already suspicious after reading the "root-level permissions" bit

I think that statement was reserved for programs that REQUIRE root access. i.e. apps like SetCPU:
http://www.amazon.com/MichaelH...p;qid=1300829663&sr=1-1

Article seems to be slightly misleading on that, leading to a negative interpretation as you read.