Lost amid the uproarious din first generated by the Consumer Electronics Show and then closely followed by Verizon's triumphant release of an old iPhone model was my favorite announcement of the new year: Amazon is creating their own Android app store, and the online retailer will be certifying applications against a clearly stated set of technical, moral and legal criteria.
I can safely say that given an "applified" world, I'm a huge proponent of the application-store distribution model. I want to do business with a delivery system that I feel safe giving my credit card to on a regular basis, helps me discover new applications that I will like and will be worth my time or money and, most importantly, has a system in place to ferret out bad, buggy or potentially malicious software that could foul up my phone or my life in some way.
Back in 2008, I worried about the Android Market, blogging, "If the Market winds up becoming a free-for-all zone, where developers unleash their wildest dream applications without much attention paid to quality or stability, the user comments and reviews will therefore become the de facto measurement stick for an application's usability, allure and stability. If this Wild West scenario comes to pass, it will be exciting to see whether this kind of crowd-sourced arbitration can pass muster on a large scale, to see whether the applications and developers can prosper amidst the dampening effects of flames, trolls and uninitiated opinion without at least a little bit of comment moderation."
I don't think the Android Market has sunk to those depths, but I also can't say that it is a place with which I want to do business. My want for a one-stop application shop for my mobile platform of choice runs counter to my perception that the Android Market is full of buggy applications along with the occasional piece of spyware. Not that anyone can find anything anyway, thanks to the market's unguided and aimless recommendation and discovery system.
I freely admit that this perception is likely tainted by my friend and colleague Cameron Sturdevant, who reviews Android devices for eWEEK Labs and is also a recent Android convert and who almost daily refers to the Android Market as a swamp and a cesspool.
I know a lot of developers don't like Apple's App Store model of checking and certifying every application against a (somewhat ambiguous) set of technical, legal and moral rules, but as a consumer, I have to say, I like that model-just as I liked it three years ago.
Before the App Store was officially announced, I blogged, "There needs to be some kind of software-certification program that third-party apps should go through to ensure that a) nothing suspicious is going on, b) new holes aren't being introduced, and c) reliability is not negatively affected."
Apple more than met my expectations with the App Store they delivered, and most of the industry has followed suit, as BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 marketplaces each have their own codes of conduct and quality to which developers must adhere.
So, I'm completely excited to see that Android is getting its own quality-controlled marketplace. Even better, it's with a company that has already well earned my trust and my business and will probably be able to make some good recommendations based on what it already knows about me.
But the best part is that there will be room for choice, and it doesn't have to be an either-or decision to go with either the Android market or the Amazon application store. Consumers should and, I expect, will be able to make that choice themselves.