Amazon launches developers' portal for its Android Appstore

Consumer store to launch in US later this year

Amazon launches developers' portal for its Android Appstore
As I recently argued, Amazon's decision to launch a consumer store for Android apps and games is big news.

It's not because of any devices Amazon might release however. It's because 114 million people already trust and use Amazon's e-retailing system, while hardly anyone trusts or uses Google Marketplace - the default e-retailing option for Android phones.

For that reason, all developers should be interested in exploring Amazon's developer portal for its forthcoming Amazon Appstore, which has now launched.

On the dotted line

Labelled a self-service system, developers can now sign up for the portal and start submitting apps and games.

The Appstore will cover apps and games for Android devices running version 1.6 of the OS or higher. There's a planned annual fee of $99, but this will be waived for early adopters.

In terms of the launch schedule, Amazon remains tight-lipped.

'Later this year,' is the only comment at present; that and the proviso - as with many Amazon initiatives - it will launch first for US consumers. There will be an Amazon store app for on-device downloads (smartphones and tablets), and the ability to purchase via web on your PC.

Content will have to downloaded direct to device however, rather than being sideloaded from PC in the manner of iTunes. 

Laissez faire

In terms of how Amazon will be running the store, it seems to be taking a fairly hands-off approach.

"The submission process will be similar to Google," says Aaron Rubenson, Amazon's category leader for mobile services. "We want to provide a really great experience for developers."

Developers can submit the same files they currently do for the Google Marketplace; there's no issues of exclusively. 

Instead, Amazon expect to compete on its scale and vaunted recommendation options. 

Don't be evil

There will be what are called 'straightforward guidelines and policies' in terms of what content will be allowed, but Amazon won't be prescriptive when it comes to content.

"We want to encourage innovation and creativity," Rubenson explains.

No doubt, there will be some interesting dilemmas thrown up over time in terms of possible IP infringement, and more blatant exploration of the company's sensibilities when it comes to issues such as sex, violence etc.

The impression provided is that Amazon will follow Google's approach rather that the more active policing practised by Apple.

Sealed and delivered

One area where Amazon will take a firm stance however is functionality; something that makes sense given the fragmentation of the Android market.

"We will be testing everything and performing QA before apps go live," says Ameesh Paleja, general manager of mobile service's engineering division.

"There will also be good tools to handle sales reports and analytics."

Developers will have the option of applying DRM to their content, or they can choose to make apps available without any rights management constraints.

Amazon promises fast payment too, on a monthly cycle, with developers getting their cash 30 days after the end of each month. The Appstore works on the standard 70:30 split. 

Pulling the price lever

One significant difference with its Appstore however is that Amazon says it will maintain control over the pricing of apps, rather than developers. 

Developers will be able to set a recommended list price of course, but Amazon has the option to change this if it wants to, presumably to increase sales. Developers will get 70 percent of sales or a minimum of 20 percent of the list price if the game is heavily discounted or free. 

Sounds an interesting approach, and something likely to require further consultation.

You can find out more about the service via Amazon's developer website.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.