Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Amazon's Android App Store: Now Things Are Really Starting to Get Interesting!

Originally published on Digital Book World

In a surprising turn of events Amazon.com recently launched an app store specifically for Android driven devices, aptly named (what else) Amazon Appstore for Android!

What makes this so interesting is that Amazon does not currently sell an Android anything of their own, leading to speculation that the next Kindle, the popular and highly successful eReader, will be in color, more tablet in nature, and likely use a Honeycomb platform, similar to the upcoming product Sony plans to release this summer.

But who knows.

What we do know is that Amazon does sell just about every Android-powered smartphone and tablet computer available, including T-Mobile's MyTouch and HTC's EVO, as well as Samsung's Galaxy Tab and Motorola's Xoom. However none of these can run apps sold from Apple's iTunes, and except for a few simple apps developed for Kindle, like Scrabble and Hangman, Amazon hasn't really been in the business of mobile applications in any serious way.

Until now.

And that's because Amazon, a trusted consumer brand like Apple, decided to shine a light on one of the best and most enticing reasons to purchase a smartphone or tablet from them instead of anyone else: APPS!

So why does this matter? Well, for starters, in the past Android users had to go to a variety of different sources to locate apps, which wasn't very convenient from a consumer perspective. Plus, over and over users would read about how the "apps for Android" landscape was akin to the wild, wild, west (which is unsettling) and so you had an open source environment that wasn't policed well enough to prevent one or two from causing serious technical problems. But no more, because with their new app store, Amazon will aggregate the best and most popular apps, such as Angry Birds and Shazam, and test them to make sure they're safe to download. Sound familiar? It should since it's the Apple model but for "non-Apple" devices. Android users rejoice!

It's been reported that soon Barnes & Noble, the retailer that actually does sell eReaders powered by Android, will be launching an app store of their own. And it's worth noting B&N has made a limited number of apps, such as Chess and Sudoku, available for their critically acclaimed Nook for quite some time, just like Kindle. And owners of the Nook Color have been enjoying those same games plus Pandora Radio and Crossword Puzzles in glorious technicolor since November 2010. The major difference is that B&N isn't in the third-party cell phone or tablet business, so it remains to be seen if apps for Nook will also run on other Android devices. Regardless, it's gonna be a while before they can catch up to Amazon who just got the jump on 'em.

With this in mind I'm sure Amazon can relate and is aggressively working to grow its selection of apps as quickly as possible to compete with the more than 350K currently found on iTunes. Add to this effort its new cloud initiatives for digital music, data storage, plus streaming of instant movies (etc.), and it becomes quite clear Amazon is determined to remain a major player in each of these spaces. Frankly, I'm exhausted just thinking about it

So that leaves Google, the incredible company that introduced the world to Android in the first place, and who presently has a greater selection of apps than Amazon. But Google most likely has no interest in trying to compete with a formidable retailer with a long reputation for having great customer service and an online shopping experience that just can't be beat. Then again...maybe they do! In the end it really doesn't make any difference whether users get their Android apps from Amazon, B&N, or anyone else for that matter. Either way, Google wins! Plus Amazon's entry into this space will only increase sales of Android devices, expanding their reach and appeal, and all with the stamp of approval by one of the world's most favorite online retailers.

Having said all that, isn't it only a matter of time before a flood of book-related apps start pouring in to take advantage of Amazon's new channel of content distribution? From my vantage point this all makes for a very exciting time to be a publisher, author, developer, producer, or start-up with a dream and a story to tell.

Don't you think?


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