Amazon’s Android App Store: Now Things Are Really Starting to Get Interesting!

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Peter Costanzo PicBy Peter Costanzo, Director of Digital Content, F+W Media

In a surprising turn of events Amazon.com recently launched an app store specifically for Android-driven devices, aptly named (what else) Amazon Appstore for Android!

What makes this so interesting is that Amazon does not currently sell an Android anything of their own, leading to speculation that the next Kindle, the popular and highly successful eReader, will be in color, more tablet in nature, and likely use a Honeycomb platform, similar to the upcoming product Sony plans to release this summer.

But who knows?

What we do know is that Amazon does sell just about every Android-powered smartphone and tablet computer available, including T-Mobile’s MyTouch and HTC’s EVO, as well as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Motorola’s Xoom. However none of these can run apps sold from Apple’s iTunes, and except for a few simple apps developed for Kindle, like Scrabble and Hangman, Amazon hasn’t really been in the business of mobile applications in any serious way.

Until now.

And that’s because Amazon, a trusted consumer brand like Apple, decided to shine a light on one of the best and most enticing reasons to purchase a smartphone or tablet from them instead of anyone else: APPS!

So why does this matter? Well, for starters, in the past Android users had to go to a variety of different sources to locate apps, which wasn’t very convenient from a consumer perspective. Plus, over and over users would read about how the “apps for Android” landscape was akin to the wild, wild, west (which is unsettling), and so you had an open source environment that wasn’t policed well enough to prevent one or two from causing serious technical problems. But no more, because with their new app store, Amazon will aggregate the best and most popular apps, such as Angry Birds and Shazam, and test them to make sure they’re safe to download. Sound familiar? It should since it’s the Apple model but for “non-Apple” devices. Android users rejoice!

It’s been reported that soon Barnes & Noble, the retailer that actually does sell eReaders powered by Android, will be launching an app store of their own. And it’s worth noting B&N has made a limited number of apps, such as Chess and Sudoku, available for their critically acclaimed Nook for quite some time, just like the Kindle. And owners of the Nook Color have been enjoying those same games plus Pandora Radio and Crossword Puzzles in glorious technicolor since November 2010. The major difference is that B&N isn’t in the third-party cell phone or tablet business, so it remains to be seen if apps for Nook will also run on other Android devices. Regardless, it’s gonna be a while before they can catch up to Amazon who just got the jump on ‘em.

With this in mind I’m sure Amazon can relate and is aggressively working to grow its selection of apps as quickly as possible to compete with the more than 350K currently found on iTunes. Add to this effort its new cloud initiatives for digital music, data storage, plus streaming of instant movies (etc.), and it becomes quite clear Amazon is determined to remain a major player in each of these spaces. Frankly, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

So that leaves Google, the incredible company that introduced the world to Android in the first place, and who presently has a greater selection of apps than Amazon. But Google most likely has no interest in trying to compete with a formidable retailer with a long reputation for having great customer service and an online shopping experience that just can’t be beat. Then again… maybe they do! In the end it really doesn’t make any difference whether users get their Android apps from Amazon, B&N, or anyone else for that matter. Either way, Google wins! Plus Amazon’s entry into this space will only increase sales of Android devices, expanding their reach and appeal, and all with the stamp of approval by one of the world’s most favorite online retailers.

Having said all that, isn’t it only a matter of time before a flood of book-related apps start pouring in to take advantage of Amazon’s new channel of content distribution? From my vantage point this all makes for a very exciting time to be a publisher, author, developer, producer, or start-up with a dream and a story to tell.

Don’t you think?

Peter Costanzo is the Director of Digital Content for F+W Media. He also teaches the Introduction to Interactive Media course at NYU. Follow him on Twitter @PeterCostanzo.

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6 thoughts on “Amazon’s Android App Store: Now Things Are Really Starting to Get Interesting!

  1. Fascinating post. I’m not sure whether to love this post because of all the exciting developments it suggests are in the pipeline (I love technology); or to hate it because I have just bought a Kindle at Christmas and now you’re telling me a colour one with lots of bells and whistles could be just around the corner. Oh well, c’est la vie.

  2. Thanks Christopher! As I mentioned, no-one really knows whether or not the next Kindle will be in color…some just think this new app store is an indication a color version might be on the way. Besides, the latest Kindle with the e-Ink Pearl screen is pretty sweet and can be read in sunlight – I’m sure you’ll find you’ve made a good purchase while reading at the beach this summer :-) -Peter C.

  3. Great article, Peter! I’m an avid Android device user, and it took me about ten seconds to jump on the Amazon Android App Store train. I’d love to see Amazon integrate the app store and its Kindle for Android store in some way—but that may be wishful thinking. I do find it odd that Amazon has multiple commerce apps available for Android (in addition to these two, Amazon MP3 and Amazon Mobile), but none of them play with or reference each other.

    If Apple continues to squelch in-app purchases that avoid their App Store, I wonder if we’ll see some subscription-based/issue-based publishing apps migrate to Android.

  4. Thanks Sarah J! I’m sure as the popularity of Amazon’s App Store grows, so will ways to make it more convenient and accessible through multiple channels. They’re just getting started and will most likely introduce enhancements in the months ahead leading into the winter holiday season . Best, Peter C.

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