Amazon, Android and Open Source

Today Android, tomorrow the world

Rumors are running rampant that tomorrow Amazon will announce that they are launching their very own Android App Store. This app store will compete with the Google run Android market already operating. Does the Android market need two app stores?  I guess we will find out. More importantly for me though is that this is a bit of turnaround is fair play on Google.

For years Google has used open source as a wedge to enter into markets like mobile, mapping, location, etc.  Now Amazon is taking a page right out of the Google book. Seeing a need in the community they are turning it around on Google. Unlike Apple and the iPhone, Android's multi-vendor, open nature gives Amazon a great opening to make a dent in this potentially huge market. Unless your iPhone is jailbroken you can't download apps from other than Apple's own app store on iTunes.  Not so with Android though.

So why would you use the Amazon Android app store instead of the Google app store?  The obvious answer is security and quality. It seems the Google Android app store has had a bunch of issues with apps that are riddled with malware. Again unlike in Apple, where apps are screened for obvious security issues (as well as whether they meet the Apple sniff test), just about anything can get listed on the Google store. Hey it's the free market at work. Amazon can bring some quality control to this issue for sure.  They may be more discriminating and make sure any app in the commercial Amazon store is safe, or at least free of malware.

But don't be surprised according to some of the articles if Amazon also offers apps cheaper than what the cost in the Google store (hey its the Amazon way). Also, they will offer it appears, some apps that may only be available at least for some time from the Amazon store. These are two important pieces that may even trump the security/quality issue.  Cheaper and exclusive are powerful draws.

What about free apps though? If you are like me you probably download a bunch of free apps even though you may not wind up using them very much. What incentive would Amazon have to offer free apps? Of course the obvious answer is upsell, but that is not always the case. The flip side of an Amazon Android App Store is that it will be commercial in nature. If it is not going to generate revenue for Amazon, it probably will have no business being listed in their app store.  

There are some staple free apps that you need if you are going to keep people from going to the Google store. But one has to ponder if Amazon cares if people go to the Google store. They can't stop them and Google can build the Google app store app into the OS. So maybe Amazon figures people are going to go to the Google store anyway. Let them get the free stuff there.

Once Amazon has this store up though what else is next?  Do they want a piece of the web app business? They already are a major player in the cloud, could selling cloud based apps be the next thing for them? I don't see what they would just stop at Android.

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