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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Amazon Developing an Android App Store of Its Very Own

Buzzwords like “open” and “closed” and “fragmented” get tossed around when discussing the smart phone rivalry between Android and iOS, but here’s some fun food for thought: could Amazon succeed in making Android more and less fragmented at the same time? That could be the end result of a new Amazon App Store initiative, which will offer select Android apps in an experience closer to the Apple store than the loosely controlled Android Marketplace.

And here’s the Amazon twist: the online retailer will set its own app prices, meaning developers could find their apps on sale for less (or, possibly, more) than they expected.

The Android Marketplace is currently a bit of an untamed frontier. Despite its recent facelift, the Marketplace lacks the approval process or standards Apple enforces for iOS apps. Apps sometimes work on one Android app and not another--but Amazon’s aiming to create a more guided app store experience, enacting an approval process somewhat similar to Apple’s. Amazon retains 30% of the profits from sold apps, and has the right to price any app however it wants.

Developers are guaranteed at least 20% of their list price if the app is heavily discounted, and Amazon claims it will do its best to price apps for maximum profitability. With the recommendation tools already in place from and the success of Amazon deals, perhaps the company can pull off a successful app store with Android apps that are guaranteed to work.

Best case scenario: Android developers who have been reluctant to allow access to the full Android Marketplace will all unite under the powerful Amazon banner, delivering content through a proven website that knows how to handle digital downloads. Worse case scenario: the Amazon store gains only minor support, splintering the Android app experience even further.

The Amazon store is scheduled to make an appearance sometime this year. Installing new apps will likely be done through an Amazon app on phones...which we’ll probably have to download from the Android Marketplace. Then again, Amazon has done a great job of working its Amazon Kindle and MP3 apps onto plenty of Android phones. It may well do the same thing with its store.

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