There are a lot of things wrong with the Android Market. From the lack of in-app payments to the limited payment options, there are enough shortcomings to write an essay about. However, thanks to its “openness”, there’s always room for alternatives. Amazon, the Seattle based online shopping giant, is gearing up to offer an alternative. The Amazon appstore for Android is slated to be launched later this year. Right now the developer portal is live at developer.amazon.com. Android app developers can sign up and submit their apps to Amazon.
After its success with the Kindle store, Amazon certainly believes that it can do a better job than Google. With the new app store, Amazon is aiming to take the middle-ground between Apple’s app store and Google Android Market. Like the iPhone app store, all apps will have to be approved by Amazon before they can appear on the store. However, unlike Apple, Amazon isn’t looking to be the moral police. Instead it will be screening the applications to ensure that they are safe, stable and do what they claim to do. The expectation is that it will keep the junk applications out, without killing the diversity and flexibility of Android apps.
The other differentiating factor for the Amazon appstore will be pricing. Unlike other stores where the developer determines the price of an app, in Amazon’s store they can only suggest a price. The actual price will be fixed by Amazon. Amazon has earned a reputation for giving deep discounts on both new and old items. Expect something similar on its Android store. In order to pull in users, Amazon will be tweaking with the price and offering deals from time to time. However, Amazon is promising that it will be looking after the developer’s interest and not undercut them. Under all circumstances, developers will earn at least 20% of the list price.
Having options is always good. However, at this moment, I am not certain if the Amazon appstore is good news or bad news. It will probably be safer and less junk-filled than the Android Market. It will also tap into Amazon’s expertise in ecommerce. I am expecting multiple payment options and a sophisticated recommendation engine. Amazon’s store should also please manufacturers looking to release an Android handset without necessarily bundling the Android Market. However, the biggest cause for concern in fragmentation. If multiple markets start springing up with their own exclusive apps, in the long run, it’s going to complicate things for the users. I am also uncertain about Amazon’s decision to control pricing. The presence of an established alternative in the form of Google Market will probably deter them from setting prices too low, but standardization of pricing can be a dangerous thing. Hopefully, Amazon’s entry will at the very least force Google to improve its Market.