Although the Amazon Android app store has been in the wings for quite some time, no overt actions have been taken until now. Amazon has now announced that they are formally launching their developer program, which is intended to feed apps into their new app store. As one would expect, Amazon is saying that they will be keying in on quality, and on giving Android owners a safe place to buy apps, something that does not really exist at this point. Amazon seems intent on exercising fairly firm control over the wares in this store, again doing their best to copy the winning Apple formula.
At this point, the biggest Android app seller is the Google store, which makes sense since Android makes the Google smartphone operating system. However, there have been problems associated with purchases from the Google store. Beyond the difficulties with giving user-tracking data to marketers, which Android and iOS4 seem to share, there have been problems with malware being delivered to Android phones along with apps purchased from Google. According to a GigaOM story, the store also has too few ways to identify the apps users want and requires that buyers use the relatively unpopular Google Checkout system.
Beyond these problems, the Android marketplace is also suffering from severe versionitis. There are too many versions of Android running on too many different phones, many of which have been altered by the handset manufacturers. This makes life difficult for developers, because it is difficult to know exactly what operating system environment to target. As it is, many developers are having to develop and maintain separate app versions for different Android versions and handsets. It is unknown what the Amazon Android app store can do about versionitis, but they may be able to solve some of Google’s other problems.