Amazon’s answer to Google’s Android Market and Apple’s iTunes App Store combines a novel pricing model and the ability to try apps before buying them with the online retailer’s massive customer base and low-friction payment system.
The company’s promise to “market your apps using proven e-commerce and marketing features like search and search refinement, browse, and app recommendations” is likely to appeal to developers looking for promotional opportunities that aren’t reliant on the store operator favoritism.
Paul Ryder, VP of electronics for Amazon.com, believes Appstore for Android can help solve the issue of app discoverability — the challenge app makers face in attempting to make people aware that their app exists amid hundreds of thousands of other apps.
“Our customers have told us that the sheer number of apps available can make it hard to find apps that are high quality and relevant to them,” Ryder said in a statement. “We’ve spent years developing innovative features that help customers discover relevant products.”
Amazon may have an advantage here, at least initially, because it only has about 4,000 apps, significantly less than the number of apps in the Google’s Android Market, which are estimated to range from 150,000 to almost 300,000.
Were it not for Amazon’s strong brand recognition and existing user base, store discoverability could have been as much of a challenge as app discoverability. There are several dozen major app stores already and many more on the way.
The Appstore will allow users to try apps out before buying them, a feature that may help well-made apps survive at price points above $0.99.
Amazon’s Appstore for Android introduces a new pricing model. Amazon pays developers 70% of the sale price of the app or 20% of the list price, whichever is greater. The developer determines the list price but Amazon sets the sale price, which may be zero if an app is offered as a promotion.
Amazon’s decision to open a store for Android apps more sense in light of speculation that the company may be working on an Android version of its Kindle or a more general purpose Android tablet. Were Amazon to announce such a product, it would already be protected from Microsoft’s patent claims related to Android: Amazon last year entered a patent licensing agreement with Microsoft, which is now suing Barnes & Noble over its Android-based Nook.
Amazon is charging developers $99 annually for access to its Appstore, though the company is waiving this fee for the first year.