Amazon’s new Android Appstore launched Tuesday, and I’ve spent some time getting to know it this week. I’ve also been taking advantage of the one free paid app per day offer, Amazon’s using to promote the store, to snatch a few new titles for the Samsung Galaxy Tab I pack around with my iPad. Tuesday’s free app was Angry Birds Rio, a new title in the popular Angry Birds line based on the animated flick, Rio. Smartly, Amazon secured an exclusive for the launch of Rio, which I’m sure drove some traffic to the store Tuesday.
The store launched with 30 title categories and a healthy selection of apps, including popular titles like: Fruit Ninja, Shazam, and Call of Duty. The store represents the first attempt by a major retailer to offer a “curated” selection of Android applications – and I’m happy to see it. According to Amazon’s submission rules, apps in the store must work properly and be safe, both in terms of consumer data privacy and the impact to the mobile device itself. Consumers will be able to worry a little less about whether or not an app is safe, Amazon screens all apps in the store for malware. In the wake of the recent malware outbreak in the official Android Market, over 50 apps infected with a malware program “DroidDream,” security is something more Android users are thinking about. A “curated” selection of apps contributes to Apples’s success with the iTunes App Store, it’s likely to do a lot of good for Google’s Android platform.
The web-based store sports a cool feature called “Test Drive” that lets you take an app out for a spin in your browser before you buy it. Click the ‘Test Drive” button, and Amazon will launch an emulated instance of Android on its EC2 cloud platform for your test driving pleasure. Unfortunately, this isn’t supported for all apps. This is something I’d like to see in the iTunes App Store as well, a few screen shots isn’t always enough. Users can browse apps in the web-based store, or download a native Android app. I’ve been using the native Android app and it’s a pleasure to use. One-click purchasing is available, and it really is one-click, so watch where you tap on the screen when you’re browsing – you’ve only got 15 minutes to return an accidental purchase.
Amazon’s appstore will also introduce a new pricing model for Android developers. Instead of offering developers the typical 70/30 split, developers will tell Amazon what they hope to sell the app for. Amazon, however, will determine the price. Developers will then receive 70% of the revenue earned, or 20% if Amazon decides to discount the app or give it away for free. The reduced rate is in exchange for the increased sales that will likely result from Amazon’s effort to promote the app. This system is probably going to benefit developers because it’s in Amazon’s best interests to optimize the revenue generated for each app – and Amazon knows how to run an e-tail business.
TechCrunch has speculated that the Amazon appstore may precede an Amazon-made tablet powered by Android, enabling Amazon to more directly compete with Apple and other tablet manufacturers. Is Amazon’s Android Appstore a sign of things to come? I don’t now, but I’m happy to see it.