There’s something that confuses me about the Amazon Appstore. Namely, why does it exist? Why did we need another place to buy apps on the Android OS? Really, I can think of 3 particular reasons why the Amazon Appstore is a bad idea, and just plain stupid.
1. It Causes Further Fragmentation
Whenever Android development comes up, all I ever hear is ‘fragmentation’ – the sheer number of devices and OS versions that developers have to support to run on Android is part of what has scared away developers. So, how is having a new app marketplace on the OS going to help things? You run the risk of confusing users, with now having to keep track of which app was installed from which store, instead of a single Android Market. Android is often confusing and fragmented enough as it is – do we really need another store for developers to have to worry about putting their apps up on, with rankings to track and data to analyze? I think Amazon wants a store because they want to make money off of a possible opportunity, and they’re trying to draw people to their store by way of the second reason.
2. It Discourages Paid Users
One of the big drawing features to the Amazon Appstore initially was the exclusivity and free availability of Angry Birds Rio. Since then, apps like Fruit Ninja and World Series of Poker have been made temporarily free as well. Considering that this is a platform where developers have had trouble selling paid apps to users, how is this a good thing? It continues to condition users to expect free apps, and to wait for lower prices instead of pulling the trigger on apps that may be worth more than the undervalued prices they may be at. It’s a common problem with the iOS App Store – and Amazon making it a reason to keep checking their store, while effective, is ultimately toxic to the market and to developers earning their fair share.
3. It Doesn’t Actually Improve on the Android Market
There are plenty of problems with the Android Market – no promo codes, and some countries can’t sell apps yet. Well, while you can redeem gift cards for the Amazon Appstore, it appears as if gifting apps is not something you can do yet. As well, the Appstore is currently US-only. As well, there’s no sort of official in-app purchase mechanism like the Android Market just got. In fact, the only real advantage is that international sellers like Halfbrick can set prices in US currency – right now, Fruit Ninja is ~$1.24 on the Android Market, and $0.99 on the Amazon Appstore, analogous to the iPhone version. Oh, and because of AT&T being the benevolent dictators they are, they can’t even access the Amazon Appstore using stock settings yet.
So, what we have with the Amazon Appstore is something that not only splits up the Android userbase even further, will make it harder for developers to make money off of their apps, and is presently more limited than the Android Market. Say what you will about the iOS App Store, but at least you only have the one store to worry about there. Unless or until Amazon gives some justification for them to start up their own marketplace beyond the fact that they saw dollar signs, and had an opportunity to do it, I must declare: The Amazon Appstore is stupid. Am I wrong? Drop me an email or leave a comment with your thoughts.