8 Easy Steps

Previously I posted a snarky one liner about Amazon’s new Android app store being available. As I think about it, however, it becomes even more absurd. In essence, Amazon is asking Android users to go through an eight step process as follows:1

  1. Go to Device Settings
  2. Enable installing applications from Unknown Sources.
  3. Bypass the giant warning Android puts up saying this makes you vulnerable to all sorts of nasty things.
  4. Open your SMS app and find the message Amazon sent you.2
  5. Click the link in SMS to download the Amazon Appstore executable.
  6. Click on the Amazon_appstore.apk file in your notifications bar.
  7. Read all the warnings about what the app will do and click Install.
  8. Click Open and start exploring the store.

I have taken the liberty to bold the two aspects of this process that I find mind boggling. Step two requires the user to completely bypass the Android market and allow third-party apps to be installed from outside sources. In my time with an Android phone, I have seen a single application that has required this: SiriusXM. Other than that, the only time I’ve ever known anyone to do this sort of thing is for building and testing Android applications or because they had a GPL tattoo on their forearm.

Second, how many Android users know what an .apk file is? When you install an application from Google’s Android Marketplace, it inserts a notification in the tray, but only with the app name. There’s no extensions. Extensions are a relic of the PC era. You should never explicitly show them to users on a mobile platform.3

One Easy Step

When you compare the Amazon Appstore install process to that of competing platforms, I find it hard to believe anyone outside of the company’s headquarters will go to the trouble.

If you buy an iOS device, the AppStore is right there on the first homescreen ready for you to download hundreds of thousands of applications.

If you buy a Google powered Android device, the Android Marketplace is right there ready for you to download hundreds of thousands of applications.

If you buy a Windows Phone 7 device, the Windows Marketplace is right there ready for you to download thousands of applications.

If you buy a WebOS powered Pre, the Palm Marketplace is right there ready for you to download hundreds of applications.

Even Amazon’s own Kindle comes with its bookstore built right into the app.

There should never be an eight step installation process in mobile computing. Unless Amazon is able to net a killer, exclusive application that’s unavailable anywhere else, I am hard-pressed to find any logic or reason why this will succeed.

  1. Nevermind the fact that the entire instruction set is plastered on the page as an image much like a Jeff Bezos letter to customers. Amazon is allergic to HTML.

  2. Now they have your phone number.

  3. To be fair, Elements does have a setting to enable showing file extensions, but it was requested by users and is off by default. One of the goals of the app is to extract away the concept of filesystem management.

About Justin

Justin Williams is the Crew Chief of Second Gear. He writes about consumer technology, running a bootstrapped software business, and more from Denver, Colorado.

Follow @justin on Twitter or get new articles via @carpeaqua.