Amazon Appstore’s Window of Opportunity Around In App Payments

Amazon has spent more than 15 years becoming the undisputed leader in online retailing for physical goods like books. While it does sell music and e-books, it has yet to figure out virtual goods sales in games with the same precision.

That’s why the conspicuous absence of in-app payments in Amazon’s developer distribution agreements for its newly-launched Android appstore is intriguing. And we know of several companies that are going to make a move on this in the next few months.

“The Amazon Appstore supports one-time, up-front purchasing for apps,” said Amazon spokesperson Anya Waring. “We recognize that downstream monetization features are important to developers’ business models, however, and don’t restrict their use in our developer agreement.”

This is very different from how Google is approaching its officially sanctioned Android Marketplace. Google has stressed that if Android developers want to sell goods or virtual currency in their apps and be listed in their marketplace, they need to use Google’s preferred payments methods such as Checkout or direct carrier billing. These terms have rankled Android developers who have been waiting months for a full consumer launch of Google’s long-delayed, in-app billing. (In app billing is currently in beta to developers.) At the same time, the complicated user experience on Google Checkout has made it difficult to get paid downloads on Android despite the platform’s explosive trajectory and growing market share.

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