As if publishers and brands didn’t have enough to worry about in deciding whether to develop for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms, they now have another decision to make: supporting multiple app stores on a platform.
Amazon is ready to join the fray today as the latest to throw open a shingle as an app store for mini-programs that work on Android devices. Unlike upstarts like AndSpot, Handango and GetJar, Amazon has the reach and wherewithal to offer a credible alternative to Apple’s dominant iTunes store.
Amazon’s App Store will offer a different approach to Google’s own Android Market by offering a curated environment. The Android Market won early plaudits for its open approach, unlike the onerous and opaque Apple approval process, but that laissez faire approach led to a string of malicious apps and a black eye for Google. Here’s what Amazons offer with its own app store:
Amazon’s payment system is without a doubt more widely used than Google Checkout. With the current Android Market, you don’t have to create a Google Checkout account until you go to purchase a paid app, which can deter you from completing the transaction. To get a good read on their users, Amazon will most likely require you to have an account to log in to the store.
“The main thing they’re bringing is their large account user base,” said Matt Hall, co-founder of Larva Labs, one of the most notable and open independent development shops focused on Android. “They might be the only company other than Apple that has the quantity of users with a payment method in place to make a big difference to an existing market like this.”
Amazon is the king of collaborative filtering. One of the biggest challenges for apps to date has been discoverability. ITunes can be a mess to navigate. Android is far worse and, because of the unfettered nature of the store, chockablock with crappy apps. Amazon has over a decade and a half experience of streamlining the e-commerce experience to get users to what they they want — even if they don’t know yet that they want it — in the least amount of time as possible.
“Amazon is the undisputed leader in optimizing the online buying experience,” said Brian Akaka, CEO of Appular, a marketing firm for apps. “This is all Amazon’s bread-and-butter, and they can do this better than Google, and better than Apple.”
Amazon loves deals and bundles, something that other App Stores haven’t been able to pull off before. The ability to sell apps bundled in a package could cure many ills for app developers. The outstanding question is who controls the bundle: the developer or Amazon. The ability for Amazon to change prices on the fly to increase sales and the exclusives we’re already hearing about for the launch of the store (the new bird Rio, from the movie of the same title, in Angry Birds and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Force Recon) are definitely reasons for users to download the new store, which is Amazon’s biggest obstacle. As for Google, it seems content with Amazon using its ecommerce prowess to further spread the footprint of Android.
“Google has always said they want other markets to be available,” said Hall. “I think they’re most interested in the health of the ecosystem rather than specifically where a user gets their apps.”