Amazon.com launched its Amazon Appstore for Android, a seemingly perfect platform for a tablet or smartphone. But Amazon.com and analysts claim it's about mobile shopping.
Amazon.com launched its Amazon Appstore for Android applications March 22,
and while it's tempting to speculate that the store foreshadows an Android
tablet or smartphone, both the company and industry analysts say this isn't
necessarily the case.
Amazon Appstore for Android
hosts more than 4,000 applications,
each of which users may test on a simulated Android phone. Customers can buy
applications through their computer's Web browser, or they may download them to
their Android phones or tablets through an Amazon Appstore application.
An Amazon.com spokesperson declined to say whether the e-commerce giant
planned to sell Android gadgets to pair with its new app market. Even so, the
spokesperson offered two key reasons why the company is selling Android apps.
The first is that Google's Android Market is like searching for an app
needle in a huge software haystack. There are between 130,000 and 150,000 apps
in the market, and Google hasn't exactly perfected a recommendation engine or
ratings system to help winnow down choices. Apple's iTunes App Store, which
boasts 350,000 apps, is much better at this.
"The sheer number of apps available today makes it hard for customers
to find high-quality, relevant products at great prices," Amazon.com said.
"We've spent years developing innovative features that help customers find
and discover relevant products from our vast selection, and we're excited to
apply those capabilities to the apps market segment."
Amazon.com will leverage its personalized recommendation engine to suggest
applications users might be interested in based on their previous purchases and
browsing activity on the e-commerce Website. Customer reviews and one-click
payment options are also featured.
The second key reason is that mobile shopping is a big deal and getting
bigger in the tech market and at Amazon.com, which offers an Amazon Shopping
app for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad and Windows Phone 7; Price Check by
Amazon; Amazon Deals app; and Windowshop for iPad. Don't forget about the
numerous Kindle apps either.
"An Appstore is a logical next step for Amazon," the spokesperson
added. "We take mobile shopping very seriously, and across the company we
are working hard to make great products and services available on mobile
Yes, but wouldn't having smartphones and/or tablets with which to pair those
"great products and services" make the mobile shopping experience
even better? After all, the Kindle is making a killing paired with Amazon.com's
digital book library.
Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps said
earlier this month that Amazon.com could create an Android
tablet to connect users to Amazon's Prime free shipping and Instant Video
service, recommendation engine and one-click purchasing.
Epps added that Amazon.com could also be setting itself up to be a payment
platform for Android tablets made by Motorola Mobility, Samsung, HTC
"I think this is the more likely scenario, actually," Epps told
eWEEK. "iTunes has 200M credit cards on file; Amazon is one of the only
other companies that comes close to that. Consumers feel more comfortable
transacting via Amazon than Google, so layering Amazon payments on top of the
Android Market could encourage consumers to buy more Android apps."
Epps' colleague, Forrester analyst Charles Golvin, added:
"In addition to payment support, there's something that Amazon does
infinitely better than anyone other than Apple who is operating an 'app store'
(quotes to prevent legal action from Cupertino):
retail. You know, market apps, ease their discovery, run promotions, etc. I
suspect Amazon simply sees software as yet another product category they can
dominate, on tablets AND on phones."
In other words, Amazon.com simply wants to sell oodles of stuff that people
want, whether that be books, music, video-on-demand, furniture or Martha
Stewart cookware. Apple has paid out $3 billion to developers in app sales, so
clearly Amazon.com sees app sales are popular.
Since Apple's shop is closed, Android with its huge footprint and largely
untapped paid app is the shiny, new choice. Current Analysis analyst Avi
Greengart summed it up best when he told eWEEK:
"Amazon is, first and foremost, a retailer. As the goods consumers buy
are increasingly digital, Amazon wants to sell them. In this respect, moving
from selling packaged software to software downloads is no different from
selling books/ebooks or music/MP3s."