Touring The Amazon Appstore

I dug into the cell phone graveyard that is my desk drawer and dusted off my Nexus One to install the Amazon Appstore and see what is available.

Whereas I previously outlined the eight steps to install the app, you can eliminate two if you have Barcode Scanner installed. With it installed, you can take a snapshot of the QR Code on the Appstore homepage to automatically start the download. You still can’t bypass the requirement to enable installing applications from unknown sources or dealing with the foreign file extensions, but it’s a modest improvement.1

The first thing you’ll see after installing the application is the signin screen where Amazon touts “A paid app for free. Every day.” That’s certainly one way to attract users. The free app for today? Angry Birds Rio. Not bad.

Amazon Appstore Front Page

The top paid and free apps listed on the Amazon Appstore look fairly similar to that of iOS. The Top Paid apps as of this writing are as follows:

  1. Angry Birds

  2. Angry Birds Seasons

  3. Fruit Ninja

  4. Call of Duty

  5. SwiftKey, a pretty nifty third-party keyboard for Android.

On the Free side:

  1. Angry Birds Rio

  2. ZombieBooth, Apple’s PhotoBooth with zombie effects.

  3. Fancy Widget, a clock and weather desktop widget.2

  4. Key Ring Reward Cards, an app to store your frequent shopper cards and save money.

  5. Roller Lite, a Ski-ball clone.

When you tap on a specific app to see more information it has a familiar amazon look with 5 star rating system, product description and loads of yellow and orange. One nice aspect of the Amazon experience is the ability to save an app for later. I’ve long wished that Apple would add an App wishlist to the AppStore for those times when I want to buy an app but just not yet.3 Sometimes this is because I don’t need it right now or because I want to swap out credit cards on my account so that Second Gear can pay for it rather than me personally.4

Amazon Appstore Product Listing Page

The process of installing is just as easy as on the iOS AppStore. Type “Get App” or “Buy App” and it will begin downloading. Once Amazon finishes downloading the app’s bits it will then prompt you on whether to allow the app to be installed on the device itself whereas the Android Marketplace prompts you for this initially. Since Amazon is bypassing the Android Marketplace and downloading what Google considers insecure binaries, it makes sense that it comes after the fact, but that is a very Windows like experience.

With respect to the “Get App” and “Buy App” buttons they can be somewhat confusing in the context of listing all the applications in a specific category. Both Apple and Android list the price of the app as part of the Buy button whereas Amazon lists the price in smaller type underneath the app name. When there is a list of apps it can be somewhat confusing to see what the price is for each product.

Amazon Appstore Product Section Page

Overall the Amazon Appstore isn’t a terrible experience, especially compared to Android’s default Marketplace. I just don’t believe it has a place in the market unless Amazon cuts deals with carriers or phone manufacturers to bundle the store on devices from the factory. Alternatively, perhaps this is the start of Amazon’s master plan to build its own Android powered tablet for distributing Kindle books and, now it seems, mobile apps.

  1. It’s curious that QR Codes have never taken off for iOS. The Android community seems to be all about posting these on their app home pages. I have even seen them on windows at retail stores or banners around town for certain events. There’s certainly a convenience factor with them, but my suspicion is that no one outside of the nerdcore understand what they are for.

  2. Thus furthering the belief that Android users cannot tell time or look up at the sky.

  3. Several people wrote in and tweeted that Apple does indeed have a wishlist function, but it is only accessible via the iTunes Store. While that’s nice, I can’t think of the last time I bought an app through iTunes rather than my iPhone or iPad. Further, I still can’t access that wishlist via the device.

  4. I am incredibly anal-retentive when it comes to my company financials. I fear the IRS.

About Justin

Justin Williams is the Crew Chief of Second Gear, makers of Glassboard. 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.