March 29, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The Amazon App Store for Android is setting up camp in Google’s backyard. Cellular South announced today that the Amazon App Store will come preloaded on the HTC Merge, so we may see how the App Store and Android Market fare when placed in direct competition.
You may remember the HTC Merge as the sweet-looking Android 2.2 phone that HTC announced in February. The Merge will arrive at Cellular South next month at a price yet to be set, but we know that when the Merge finally lands in stores, it will be the first Android device to come pre-loaded with the Amazon App Store.
“The Merge will have both the Amazon Appstore for Android pre-loaded as well as the Android Market app on the device,” Dave Miller of Cellular told Androinica.com. “We are excited about the partnership with Amazon as they are featuring a free paid app of the day for consumers, which is a nice perk.”
That could spell trouble for Google’s official store. Both the Android Market and Amazon App Store will appear on the Merge, but which will consumers favor? Experienced Android users will probably opt for the beast that they know; that will ensure a smooth transition between devices and provide access to apps that they have already paid for in the Android Market. But a new user who may be intimidated by the thousands of apps in the Market may favor the curated and well-organized Amazon App Store. (The candy-dangling of free premium apps doesn’t hurt matters, either.)
While Cellular South, a regional carrier serving the southern United States, doesn’t reach as many customers as AT&T or Verizon, it’s decision to support the Amazon App Store spells trouble for Google. Cellular South made a point of touting the App Store inclusion in the Merge announcement, so would it really surprise anyone if sales reps are trained to mention a familiar name like Amazon as a viable alternative for app purchasing? Larger carriers could also follow suit, as we saw when AT&T reversed its policy on non-Android Market downloads and promised support for the Amazon App Store.
Cellular South – along with other carriers like Cricket, MetroPCS, and U.S. Cellular – has begun pushing Android to the forefront of its promotions and smartphone portfolio. That was supposed to help fuel Android’s rise, but it could threaten how much influence Google has on the Android experience. Google has feverishly worked to improve the Android Market in recent months, and it may take a few more enhancements to limit the appeal of the Amazon App Store.