The Amazon Appstore is now open for business in the UK, meaning Brits can now download Android apps to their devices and pay for them with an Amazon account.
Customers in Germany, France, Italy and Spain also got access to the marketplace, which offers free and well as paid-for apps, Amazon said in its announcement on Thursday. The European expansion of the Appstore, which launched in the US in March 2011, has been tailored to local audiences, according to Amazon.
"In addition to localised content and a localised mobile store for each specific country, European customers will have access to popular Amazon Appstore features like the 'Free App of the Day'", starting with Angry Birds on Thursday, the company said in its statement.
As well as listing local titles such as 'Jamie Oliver's 20-minute Meals', the store includes features found across Amazon's retail site, such as 1-Click payments, customer reviews and personalised recommendations.
To get access to the Appstore, people need to download an app from Amazon's website. Getting it installed can be an involved process: the Android device must be set to allow installation of 'non-Market' applications via the settings menu. Then the user must visit a dedicated Appstore site, enter a phone number or email address, and wait for a message with a link for the store app download.
Alternative to Google Play
Overall, Amazon is providing an alternative to Google Play, the official Android store, for developers. Its tried-and-tested easy payments system, large pool of regular shoppers and general reputation as a trusted environment could be appealing to app makers trying to reach more reluctant app buyers.
However, the thorn in the side of that plan could be the necessity for Appstore users to open their devices up to non-Market applications, which some people will be uncomfortable with, thereby potentially limiting the market.
In addition, the Android apps on the Appstore are 'curated' — meaning they are tested by Amazon before being offered. By contrast, Google Play, the official Android marketplace, does not curate titles.
"Amazon continues to roll out services and features that make it the most complete end-to-end solution for developers wanting to build, market and monetise their apps and games," the company said in its statement. "Developers can build their apps and games using Amazon Web Services' industry-leading infrastructure platform."
According to the e-retailer, titles downloaded or purchased for one Android device can also be used on other devices linked to the same Amazon account.