E-tail giant Amazon is planning to expand its digital offering by launching an Android app store, according to a report from Bloomberg.
There has been no official announcement from Amazon, but the story has direct confirmation from the e-tailer, including the fact that it will keep 30 percent of revenue generated by app sales through its store.
Many people's first thoughts upon seeing this news will be that the last thing we need is yet another app store, but we think there are many reasons why there is a market opportunity, especially with Android.
Firstly, it's pretty much unanimous that the user experience on the Android market is not great. As with regular Google searches, it's great if your app is ‘featured', or near the top of a list, but otherwise your app gets buried and will only be found via a specific keyword search. There are many pieces of ‘discovery' software out there, none of which Google seems to be using, so the opportunity to deliver a better experience for end-users and developers alike is significant.
A popular theory for the inadequacy of the Android market lies in Google's business model. It also takes 30 percent of the selling price of an app, but it gives much of that to the mobile operator. Google's model is not to make margin on products, rather to give them away for free and sell advertising on the resulting traffic.
It could be argued, therefore, that Google is instinctively antagonistic to paid apps as free ones tend to get a lot more downloads. It's surely no coincidence that Angry Birds is free on Android, with AdMob ads prominent throughout. Maybe another app store would be more accommodating to paid apps.
We have asked Amazon for confirmation but have yet to hear back, meanwhile Bloomberg did get a quote from Aaron Rubenson, who is heading-up the Amazon app store. "There is a huge volume of apps out there," he said. "The challenge that creates for the Android ecosystem is it can be hard to find the products that are relevant to you. We've spent years developing an e-commerce platform that helps customers find relevant products amidst a massive selection."
As well as being the world's biggest e-tailer, Amazon now has extensive experience with digital publishing, most notably via Kindle books and its MP3 store. There's every reason to believe Amazon will deliver a good app store, but it's much less certain that it will occur to people to visit it.
UPDATE - 13:00, 2 March 2011: There is apparently an Android Developers Union now, which has made seven demands and is threatening to develop for other platforms if they're not met.