Amazon is building an app store for Android, Google’s mobile operating system, and it’s got the potential to be huge. Amazon can do this because Android is open source.People will be able to download the app store on their handsets, but what’s more likely is that Amazon will partner with device makers to ship gadgets with Amazon as the default app store.
A few things will set apart Amazon’s app store from Google‘s. The first is curation — Amazon will try to strike a happy middle between Apple’s sometimes crazy restrictions, and Android’s free-for-all. Another one is pricing: developers can set a “list price”, but Amazon reserves the right to heavily discount apps. And finally, Amazon will offer app recommendations, like it does on its web site.
Here’s why we think it can be a huge deal:
- The pricing thing is very interesting. Obviously a huge part of Amazon’s brand is to make stuff cheaper. Amazon will be able to heavily discount apps. They say they’ll do their best to maximise developer revenues, which makes sense: if a lot more people buy a lower-priced app, revenues can be higher. And they rightly note that they have an incentive to not screw developers over this, as they can just move their apps elsewhere. Dynamic pricing of mobile apps can be a powerful, interesting new trend.
- There’s a huge opportunity for an Android tablet app store. Android tablets will be a big story in 2011. Right now there aren’t many Android tablet-focused apps, but there will be. All those tablet makers will want to offer a great app store for those apps, and developers will want an app store that will feature their tablet apps prominently.
- Amazon recommendations are amazing. Amazon’s recommendations are a huge part of its success. You know, those “people who bought X also bought Y” pages. As it knows more about your interests and purchasing histories, Amazon can offer up more and more stuff you’ll like, which makes you much more likely to buy. This has been a sorely lacking feature of mobile app stores up to this point, where discovery is largely broken, even on Apple’s vaunted app store.
- Amazon can build an app store that’s just an overall great experience. It’s hard to think of any company that knows more than Amazon about building great online purchasing experiences. Amazon pioneered one click shopping, and already has your credit card on file. Discovery and purchasing are precisely the things that are broken on Android apps (and could be improved in Apple’s), and they’re precisely Amazon’s strong suits.
It’s going to be interesting to watch.