Amazon Appstore launches in US as Angry Birds Rio goes free for the day

Users can also test apps for free on site

Amazon Appstore launches in US as Angry Birds Rio goes free for the day
Given Amazon's size, it wasn't going launch its first app marketplace without fanfare, even if news of legal action by Apple has soured its first day.

So, while it looks as if Amazon Appstore's name has courted controversy, it's the tactics employed to outperform Android Market that, in the long term, is likely to leave the indelible mark.

Testing times

Gaining the most attention is the news that exclusive Android release Angry Birds Rio has celebrated the marketplace's debut by going without charge for what Amazon is describing as a "limited time", but which appears to be one day. 

This is no one-off promo, however. Amazon says it will offer one app free every day going forward, building the kind of set up practised by the likes of OpenFeint and FreeAppADay into the store's foundations.

The promo efforts don't stop there, either.

Also available is a unique try-before-you-buy tool – dubbed Test Drive - which allows users to play games on a simulated handset on the store's website.

"Our customers have told us that the sheer number of apps available can make it hard to find apps that are high quality and relevant to them," said Amazon's veep of electronics Paul Ryder.

"We've spent years developing innovative features that help customers discover relevant products. By applying these features - plus new ones like Test Drive - we're aiming to give customers a refreshing app shopping experience."

Marketplace might

Both tools will be key in attracting developers towards the platform, given visibility – or, rather, the lack of it – is one of the most prominent issues facing studios today.

It's no secret that many big players – Rovio, Zynga, Gameloft and Digital Chocolate of note – have already opted to avoid Android Market, either with key releases launched elsewhere or, as in Gameloft's case, in its entirety.

The majority have, until now, chosen to distribute on GetJar.

The strength of Amazon's name with consumers, however, could result in the Amazon Appstore leading the charge against Google's marketplace and other third party channels.

Although it's not all plain sailing for Amazon. For example, AT&T doesn't yet support the Appstore on its phones or tablets, and, of course, consumer have to work out how to download apps from "Unknown sources" to get the Appstore installed on their device in the first place. 

[source: Amazon]

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.