Rumors and reports of an Amazon competitor to Google's own Android App Store were confirmed today with Amazon's invitation letter to developers, posted here on Ubergizmo. The Amazon App Store, while not particularly shocking news, has several important implications that go way beyond just another source of Apps for Android phone users.
The most telling part of the Amazon letter was one little line:
The Amazon App Store will help customers find, buy, download, and install Android mobile applications for smartphones and other connected devices.
"What other connected devices?" you ask? Tablets, tablets, and more tablets. Oh right, and a few million televisions. Remember the Kindle? It's pretty cool and offers a great reading experience for those of us who love books, but how many people are just using the Kindle App on a phone or another converged device that kicks the Kindle to the curb in terms of versatility? The answer, of course, is a lot.
Amazon already sells a huge amount of digital content ranging from e-books to video-on-demand. Their MP3 store is as close as Android comes to a default music store, but video content isn't currently supported on Android and developers aren't exactly clamoring to more closely integrate the Android platform with everything that Amazon sells.
However, when Google TV becomes more widely adopted, then Amazon obviously has a lot to gain if it has an application presence in your home's digital hub. And when Android tablets take off by the end of the year, an Amazon App store will let them leverage the larger form factor in ways they've never been able to on the iPad.
This isn't just about selling movies, music, and e-books, though. Increasingly, the growing ubiquity of smartphones and tablets based on smartphone operating systems means that we live in an App World. If the Amazon brand can become associated with Apps in the same way that it's associated with books (or, more recently, with anything you'd like to buy), then there's yet another revenue stream from Amazon's growing digital portfolio.
While Logitech's first foray into Google TV completely misses the mark in terms of price, when Google TV goes mainstream (and it will in much the same way that Android has in the smartphone market), then apps that let users instantly buy whatever they see on TV, in movies, on YouTube, or via Google's universal search all on Amazon will add a few more billions to Amazon's bottom line. Already, the Amazon App for Android allows users to take a picture of an item and then receive an email with a link to the item in the Amazon Store when Amazon processes the visual search.
Plenty of analysts have already suggested that Amazon's App store can bring a new level of credibility and quality to Android phones as well. The Android Market is seen by many as one of the weaker features of the platform with inadequate abilities to sort out the body function apps from the great content. This hurts developers, users, and the platform as a whole. Applying an Amazon model to an App Store, though, with great user reviews and interaction, high-quality content, and generous international revenue models for developers is a win all around. Even if you're Google and Amazon's store eats into your own App Store revenue, the existence of a great App store brings more people to Android, regardless of which store they use.
While an Amazon App store represents a bold business move for Amazon, positioning them to leverage a platform that will pervade phones, tablets, televisions, cars, and a variety of other "connected devices" in the next few years, it also represents credibility and a serious investment in Android by one of the strongest brands on the Internet.