Amazon has opened up its Android AppStore to the general public. The store is accessible at Amazon.com/appstore and hosts apps for Android phones and tablets. By launching the store, Amazon has now come into direct competition with Apple and Google in the battle for dominance of the mobile app eco-system.
The store that has gone live today with an initial catalog of 3,800 apps and was announced earlier this month. Amazon’s entry into selling apps is an acknowledgement of the fact that the retail market for virtual goods/apps could one day become as big a business as the retail market of real goods. Although the new store explicitly sells apps for the Android platform, Amazon is no newbie to selling virtual goods, as the company has been selling ebooks and music for a long time now.
News is already making the rounds that Amazon is looking to hire Android developers, which would enable the company to launch an Android based Kindle. According to Nick Bilton from New York Times:
Now this could simply mean that Amazon is hiring engineers to work on new software for other Android devices. But it could also pave the way for a Kindle that runs Android, which would in turn be a color device. The current Kindle runs the Linux operating system.
It’s still up for debate whether an Android Kindle would be good for Amazon, or better for Google. With tablets becoming a competition over the number of apps available for the platform, Amazon would have a lot of catching up to do if the company decided to introduce an entirely new tablet operating system.
At first sight it might sound as if the AppStore would eat away Google’s revenues from app sales, but here are the three reasons why Amazon’s entry into the space would be a huge win for Google.
1. Amazon might launch an Android based Tablet
The iPad bundled with the ebook reader app does exactly what the Kindle does, i.e. allows users to read books. But that’s not all, you can also watch movies, play games and do other things like video chat on your iPads. People won’t buy a dedicated ebook reader for hundreds of dollars, when they can just get a tablet on which they can read books. This is similar to what happened with the iPod. iPod sales plummeted with the launch of iPhone, which was essentially an iPod + a phone.
Hence the iPad has made the Kindle irrelevant just like the iPhone made the iPod irrelevant, and Amazon knows this better than any of us. So I am speculating that Amazon wont launch an Android based Kindle, as Nick Bilton is assuming, instead the company would launch an Android based tablet of their own to compete with the iPads.
Business Insider has a piece detailing how Amazon could quietly become a huge tablet player. If that happens, Google will have yet another device vendor that will be building the hardware to run Google’s Android platform.
2. Amazon’s AppStore will enrich the Android App eco-system
Amazon is the go-to destination when it comes to ecommerce. Amazon’s entry into Android based apps will enable millions of Amazon users to easily buy Android apps. This global scale distribution platform that Amazon is about to offer would pull in legions of new developers to develop apps for the Android platform.
3. More Devices Using Android Means More Developers and Therefore… Even More Devices
An increase in the reach of Android apps, will increase the number of developers that would want to develop for Android, which in turn will increase in the number of users that want to buy Android based devices. All of this result in more hardware vendors, jumping the Android ship and trying to build Android based phones and tablets.