Friday, October 8, 2010

Amazon Is Reportedly Planning an Android Apps Store

On online store to sell Android apps is reportedly being prepared by Amazon.com to compete with Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market. Amazon reportedly will take the same 30 percent cut for apps as Apple and Google, but its agreement prohibits selling an app for less elsewhere. More stores could hurt Google's control of Android.

Along with everything else that can be sold, Amazon.com is now planning to sell Android applications. According to a story in Thursday's Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, the giant online retailer is putting the final touches on an online applications store to compete with Apple's App Store and Google Relevant Products/Services's Android Market.

The App Store is the leader, a one-stop shop of more than 250,000 apps for Apple's mobile devices, and Google's marketplace has become the leading supplier of apps for the Android platform. Google's store has about 80,000 apps, but the search Relevant Products/Services giant doesn't screen and select apps, as Apple does.

30-70 Percent Split

The Amazon store's name and launch date aren't yet known, but the Journal says the company will take the same 30 percent fee of sales as Apple and Google do. Supporting that deal structure, the newspaper said it has seen an "Amazon document for developers." The document reportedly also includes the condition that an app cannot be offered at a lower price elsewhere.

Amazon has declined to comment.

The retailer starts with an enormous infrastructure Relevant Products/Services and ecosystem for selling things, including digital things. Apple built its App Store on the iTunes infrastructure, and Google has largely had to start from scratch. Others, such as various carriers and device makers, have also started app stores, but none yet rival Apple or Google's. Verizon Wireless, for instance, is planning to enable its V CAST music and apps store for the Android platform. Best Buy is also considering adding one.

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said, "Amazon has rather deftly made the transition between physical sales of music and books, to sales of digital versions." Now, he said, it is continuing that strategy by making the transition from boxed sets of software to downloads.

Android Fragmentation?

He noted that Apple's approach has the advantage to the consumer of being curated as well as a single source. "When I'm using an Apple device," he said, "I know one place where I can go to find an app."

Greengart noted that several major stores for Android apps could lead to fragmentation and diminish Google's control over the platform. "The whole idea of the Android Market was that this is where you go for apps," he said. He added that "it's not 100 percent clear that its to the advantage of the consumer to have multiple sources," especially if a pricing floor is enforced by Amazon and if the quality of Google's uncurated market diminishes.

Android is the fastest-growing mobile platform. According to market research firm comScore, Android is now third in market share in the U.S. with 17 percent. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is first, with 39.3 percent, Apple's iPhone is second at 23.8 percent, and Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform is fourth at five percent. Worldwide, Android is also third, after Symbian and RIM.

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