Amazon Android App Store Strategy is Working

For owners of Android devices, the Google Android Marketplace can be overwhelming and daunting. At times, the sheer number of applications and the shotgun approach of recommendations can be very confusing. Not only that, but for some Android users, such as owners of the Viewsonic g Tablet or the hundreds of thousands running CyanogenMod ROMs on their devices, the Official Google Marketplace seems punitive and judgmental. Capitalizing on these facts, Amazon developed and released the Amazon App Store for Android.

The Amazon App Store for Android was a calculated move on the part of Amazon to streamline and revolutionize the way that users shop for Android Apps. Amazon’s strategy is both bold and simple, and it is paying off for developers, users, and Amazon. I am one of the many users that prefer the Amazon App store for Android over both the iTunes store and the Android Marketplace

The Amazon App Store for Android – How it Works for the User

Like the official Google Android Marketplace, The Amazon App Store for Android requires an application that is freely available, but what is different about the Amazon store is that your device does not need any “official” licensing or access on the part of Google. Specifically, this has opened up a bevy of devices including the Archos Internet Tablets, Viewsonic g Tablet, or Cyanogen ROM tablets to an App store. Before the Amazon store, devices either required some sort of “hack” or fix to access the Google Marketplace, and that access was limited and had staggering gaps. The Amazon App Store works on any device that lets you install apps directly (also known as sideloading). In general, this works well except on some carrier specific devices such as the Motorola Atrix, but that should be changing soon.

Once you access the Amazon App Store for Android you will immediately notice how not overwhelming it is. Applications are laid out in clean columns labeled “Top Paid,” “Top Free,” and “Top Rated.” Also, across the top of the screen, there are App categories listed such as games, utilities, and lifestyle. Where the Amazon store shines is with the “Recommended for You” category. Not only are the recommendations accurate, but they are also organized very well. More than once I have had an application recommended to me, bought it, and enjoyed it very much.

The two biggest features that the Amazon App Store for Android has going for it are the daily free Apps and the App exclusives. Currently, PopCap games, the developer behind Plants vs. Zombies and Chuzzle, is only offering their apps via the Amazon store. This is important to me because when I owned an iPad, Plants vs. Zombies was one of my chief time wasters, and I am very glad to have it on my Android Tablet now. As for free Apps, I am keeping a list of applications that I would be willing to pay for, and I check the Amazon store daily; on more than one occasion, the app I wanted has shown up for free. I check the Amazon App Store for Android far more frequently then I check the Google Marketplace at this point, especially since I can browse for apps from my Tablet or my desktop.

The Amazon App Store for Android – How it Works for the Developers

The Amazon App Store for Android changes the developer’s paradigm for selling apps quite a bit. Specifically, Amazon reserves the right to price a developer’s application as Amazon sees fit. That includes pricing potentially higher, putting an app on sale, or even offering it for free. A developer does get to set a “list price,” or a fair market price. Amazon promises to pay the developer at least 20% of that list price for every application distributed, even if Amazon lists the application for free or at a steep discount. In most cases however, Amazon pays out the same 70% of sales to developers that both Google and Apple do.

For developers, the organization and functionality of the Amazon App Store for Android is a boon as well. If consumers are happy with the layout, then more apps will sell. For developers, the time and effort that Amazon puts into the recommendation system and the marketing pays off. Also, the fact that the Amazon App Store is available on devices that are not officially paired up with official Google applications means that more people will have access to the store. Think of the chaos and confusion of the Google Marketplace as Wal*Mart and Amazon is – well, Amazon. Personally, if something is available at both Wal*Mart and Amazon, I buy it at Amazon.

Lastly, the Amazon App Store for Android offers one thing the Google Marketplace doesn’t: safety. This safety comes in two forms; users can test drive apps before they buy, and Amazon screens Apps for safety. When a user purchases an App on Amazon, they have been able to play with it in an Android emulator, ensuring that the application is enoyable and elimating the need for refunds. Also, the user knows that the App will work the way it is advertised, and it won’t be malicious. This is great for developers because Android users will learn to trust Amazon over Google. A trusting consumer spends more.

The Amazon App Store for Android – The Final Verdict

Openness and options are good. It is the openness and options that Android offers that lured me away from iOS in the beginning. The Android operating system, in my opinion, has always blown the socks off of iOS, and now that they Android hardware is catching up, and in many cases, surpassing Apple’s hardware, Android will soon be king. Apple might have a huge head start in tablets and smartphones, but the lack of competition in the iOS market has already had a stifling effect on growth and innovation.

I like the option of shopping at the Amazon App Store for Android or the Google Marketplace, and I like that there is often pricing competition between the two stores. I also like the changes that Amazon has brought to App shopping and that Google has responded with improvements to their own marketplace. The Amazon Android Marketplace is a welcome store for my Android devices, and I will continue to shop their so that the innovations and openness continue.