March 22, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The Android Market has a new competitor now that the Amazon App Store for Android is officially open for business. After some early morning will-they-won’t-they hi-jinx, the app store is now open for downloading Android apps, including the exclusive release of Angry Birds Rio.
The Amazon App Store is offering Angry Birds Rio as a free download to anyone who installs the app store onto their Android phone; however, the offer has a countdown that expires at the end of the day (March 22, 2011). By logging-in to an Amazon account and downloading the app store to a phone, Amazon offers the latest Angry Birds Rio and 3,000 other Android apps.
The App Store has a website that continues the design of the standard Amazon shopping experience. Apps are broken down according to section, and a 1-click download link pushes a link to the Amazon store app installed on your Android phone. It’s essentially a web-to-phone bookmarking service similar to what AppBrain used when Google broke its install links to the Android Market last year.
Users can also browse Amazon from their Android phones with an on-device app store. A search button is at the top, and users can scroll through app categories or browse a section of apps specifically recommended for you. This is one of the Amazon App Store’s best draws because it has a strong history of figuring out what people buy. I’ve been a long time customer of their consumer products and their recommendation engine is one of the best I’ve seen online. If the company manages to transition that knowledge into a curated Android market, the App Store could be a better option for discovering apps.
The distribution method for these phones means that AT&T customers will be unable to use the Amazon App Store unless they have a custom ROM. (AT&T currently does not permit non-Android Market apps on phones.) While this may be a deterrent for customers on one of the biggest networks in the U.S., it could potentially be a big boon to international users as Michael pointed out in his “Can Amazon succeed?” column.
I installed the Amazon App Store to test it out and get a free copy of Angry Birds Rio, but I doubt I will continue to use it unless the store lands exclusives for must-have apps. I don’t want to have pay multiple stores unless absolutely necessary, and I’d still like to get more clarity on Amazon’s practices and store policies. From a quality standpoint, the App Store is solid. Whether that foundation is solid enough to attract Android customers remains to be seen.