Amazon.com Leads Pack of New Android App Stores

 
 
By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-10-08
 
 
 

Amazon.com Leads Pack of New Android App Stores


Want to set up shop and sell mobile applications? There's a platform for that: Android, operating system Google unleashed to the open source community. And companies taking advantage of the search engine's largesse.

The Wall Street Journal advanced the story TechCrunch started last month that Amazon.com is launching a shop for Android apps that would compete with Google's own Android Market and Apple's App Store.

Developers would pay an annual $99 fee to join. Following the example set by Apple and Google, Amazon.com will command a 30 percent cut of app sales, with the developers keeping the rest.

The Journal's report essentially echoes this document, which adds the color that developer will be paid app royalties equal to the greater of (i) 70% of the purchase price or (ii) 20% of the List Price."

Applications, which will be available in the U.S. only and can be displayed on Amazon.com, must include Amazon's digital rights management protection. Moreover, apps sold through Amazon.com may not be sold at a lower price elsewhere.

"We have sole discretion to determine all features and operations of this program and to set the retail price and other terms on which we sell apps," the Amazon.com distribution agreement claims.  

Amazon.com is essentially leveraging the open source nature of Android, which has soared to grab nearly 20 percent of the smartphone market in the last few months, and built   its own walls around it. Amazon.com's controls around the app store recall its closely-controlled Kindle model.

An Android app store from Amazon.com would follow Verizon's V Cast Apps for Android effort, which launched in September.  

V Cast Apps sports more than 5,000 developers and while it clearly competes with Google for Android developers, the company vowed not to hinder the Android Market by controlling the applications that appear on its Android smartphones.

Android Market Gets Competition from Verizon, Sprint


Verizon is being joined by rival Sprint. The No. 3 wireless carrier announced at CTIA Oct. 6 that it is offering its own app packs, or collections of related applications.

This is geared to put a salve on one of the known pain points of the Android Market; that apps in it are hard to find because the Market lacks search functionality of Apple's App Store.

Poor search and navigation isn't the only Android Market deficiency leading to this present multi-headed monster of Android apps stores. The company's lack of management and curation in the Market has led to a lot of spam users won't see in Apple's App Store, where the submission policies are more stringent. 

Also, the company's slowness to bring billing options to countries all over the world has upset some developers looking to get paid.

Google recently added paid app coverage in several more countries, and is rumored to be bargaining with PayPal  on a partnership.

However, Amazon.com excels at selling goods via the Web, making it a logical storefront for apps. Some  80 million U.S. users download content or buy products from Amazon.com each month.

Interestingly, of all the companies setting up Android app shops or providing app packs -- phone carriers and Google --  Amazon.com is the only one without a device on which to run the programs it sells.

That is why the TechCrunch rumor that Amazon is secretly building a tablet computer based on Android is so juicy.

While the Journal positions the Amazon.com app store as geared for smartphones, it could easily be a playground for tablet apps, particularly when Google releases Android 3.0 to the market this fall.

Android 3.0, or Gingerbread, is optimized for tablet computers. The current Android 2.2 build is not. Amazon did not respond to comment on either the tablet or app store.

 

Rocket Fuel