The Disruptive Potential of the Amazon App Store

Mar 24, 2011
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A few days ago, Amazon's App Store officially opened for business. I've been spending the past few days reflecting and talking with colleagues on the many ways Amazon's move could disrupt the Android ecosystem, in a good way. There are a number of challenges manufactures have run into with Google as it relates to Android, and the Amazon app store may show a clear path to overcome those challenges and limit dependence on the Android marketplace.

The Android Market is the Glue
One of the things that often gets overlooked in the Android ecosystem is how the Android marketplace is Google's hook to attempt to control fragmentation. Manufactures who try to take Android in directions Google is not fond of or ready for will likely not pass marketplace certification. Without passing marketplace certification Google will not let hardware manufacturers put the Android Market on their devices. This is why we never saw Froyo on anything above 7 inch tablets, or if we did it did not have the Android Market. This is also why Google TV does not have the Android marketplace yet and there are many more examples.

I personally have seen a number of incredibly innovative concepts from OEMs and ODMs that never had a shot at passing Android marketplace certification but were incredibly innovative implementations of Android. Ensuring your product passed certification was a strong reason for manufactures to jump through hoops to abide by Google's rules. Everyone knew a device that did not have access to the Android market was DOA.

The Amazon App Store has the power to change this, primarily because device manufacturers now have the freedom to use Android as they please and not have to worry about marketplace certification. The Amazon App store provides a solid and trusted alternative that many consumers will feel as comfortable or even more comfortable using.

Even though loading the Amazon app store onto an Android device currently requires side loading the application, I think it's reasonable that in the future we will see manufacturers pre-install Amazon's Android app store on devices. In essence, the Amazon app store opens the door for us to see more innovative implementations of Android in the future.

It will also be interesting to see how Google handles the app store fragmentation. Right now, they won't let the Amazon app store application into their market for obvious reasons. It will also be interesting to see how both app stores cater to developers. Amazon's one paid app a day for free is an interesting promotion that has consumer appeal. Will Google need to start using similar gimmicks to keep their app store competitive?

Regardless of how we feel about Amazon's move, manufacturers now have a way to take steps to differentiate their products using Android and not have to worry whether or not Google will certify their products. The Amazon app store allows them a little bit more control of their own destiny.

Let us know what you think about Amazon's move and what it means for the Android ecosystem.


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