Amazon's Android Appstore opens to developers

In what some may see as the first step of a strike against Google's Android Market, Amazon today threw open the doors of its own Android App Store to developers.

Rumours about the store - simply dubbed the Amazon Appstore - began circulating in September last year, with TechCrunch laying out a number of details regarding pricing, terms and conditions. With the opening of the store to developers today, many of those details have been proven correct, and show that Amazon is taking a fairly Apple-esque approach to apps.

First and foremost, apps that will eventually appear on Amazon's store will need to be vetted by the shopping giant, in stark contrast to Google's policy of ''openness'' that allows anyone who signs up to submit apps to the Android Market. That policy has drawn criticism from some who claim the policy lowers the quality of apps available from the Market.

Amazon's rules on what will and won't be allowed on its store are largely what you'd expect - pornography and apps that promote illegal activity are out, as are those that infringe upon privacy, intellectual property and copyright. Amazon's definition of ''offensive content'' is ''probably about what you would expect'' according to an FAQ page (sign-in needed), and the company reserves the right to ''determine the appropriateness of all apps and to accept or reject any app at our discretion.''

Pricing will also be a major differentiator for Amazon - developers will get 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''. Sounds about normal, right?

Here's the kicker - Amazon 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.

Amazon's Appstore is US-only for the moment and developers will need to shell out $US99 - the same fee as Apple's Developer Program - to get in on the action. It will work on Android devices running version 1.6 of the mobile OS and higher, though according to TechCrunch, users will need to do some quick tinkering to allow installation from “Unknown Sources”.
 

Unsurprisingly, access to the Amazon Appstore will require an Amazon account, and will tap into the company's already widely-adopted one-click payment system.

In an interview with Amazon's Aaron Rubenson and Ameesh Paleja, TechCrunch was also told that the store's mobile interface is being created with tablets in mind and will launch sometime later this year.

For its part, Google responded to a TechCrunch enquiry about Amazon's venture into the world of apps with a two-line statement.

''Android is an open platform – and entities other than Google are free to create their own content and marketplaces, much like the web,'' a spokesperson said.

But with the number of third-party Android app stores on the rise, it would not be surprising if the search giant is quietly nervous - while more choice could end up a boon for users in terms of competitive pricing, it could also end up confusing them and frustrating developers who will need to choose which store(s) their app will appear on.

But with an established online presence, strong brand recognition and a rock-solid payment and purchasing system - not to mention a user base numbering in the millions - Amazon stands a better chance than most at success in the app game.

Image Credit: TechCrunch

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12 Comments

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Developers and users alike are not happy about the fact that any update to an app would be delayed by at least 14 days via this store as amazon requires apps and any updates at least 14 days before you publish it anyway else.

Also unless the phone firmware is modified by manufacturers that want in, anyone wanting to install the amazon store applications would have to (temporarily) disable the market apps only security option, not really a great thing to encourage.

These are the equivalent of retail stores: there is an implied level of quality and security, as well as market-driven pricing.

I see it as a step up from buying outta some guy's trunk: you still can, but this way there is some entity accountable for whether or not you get what you paid for.

Sticktron said,
These are the equivalent of retail stores: there is an implied level of quality and security, as well as market-driven pricing.

I see it as a step up from buying outta some guy's trunk: you still can, but this way there is some entity accountable for whether or not you get what you paid for.

That will depend on step two of the process. It costs $99 for developers so hopefully that means they will be doing some sort of code review like Apple. Will gives users a place to go that they know the code is safe and doesn't steal private data from your device. If it is good enough, may not even need an anti virus on the phones anymore though that's probably a long shot...

Smigit said,
I wouldn't call having alternative stores fragmentation at all.

Smigit said,
I wouldn't call having alternative stores fragmentation at all.
Smigit said,
I wouldn't call having alternative stores fragmentation at all.
In fact this is fragmentation at the supplier level. Devs will go to Amazon because now they can charge higher and there is a good filter. Google made a mess of this one, however if "open" suppliers is what they wanted, the plan is working at the cost of the Android Market. Now Google would also not be able to close down the "install from other sources" feature because of anti competitive reasons.


Rudy said,
I would

I would too.
Let's take cydia for example, and the countless numbers of repositaries for it, there's loads of them, I mean reliability and whatnot but christ, you have to find loads and add them all manually, such a waste of time and bandwidth and power.