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Why the Amazon App Store Leaves the Android Market In the Dust

Amazon (AMZN) opened its long-rumored app store this morning with 3,800 items for Google (GOOG) Android devices. Available through the Amazon website as well as a downloadable app, the Amazon App Store seems well beyond Google's neglected Android Market -- and has already garnered, as my BNET colleague Erik Sherman notes, an Apple (APPL) lawsuit over the term "app store".
There are many ways Amazon has improved the Android app purchase experience:
  • Tailored suggestions: Amazon is using purchase patterns to determine what you are interested in. For instance, if you buy the latest paperback restaurant guide, it may suggest you download a food-related app like Yelp. No other app provider has as much user information.
  • Organized searching: Searching the Amazon App Store is as simple and intuitive as finding any other item on the website. In comparison, the Android Market is a chaotic experience with items missing from search and other issues.
  • Test drive: According to All Things D, an upcoming feature, Amazon Test Drive, will let you try an app for 30 minutes before you decide to buy it. Until recently, the Android Market let you use the app for 24 hours -- enough time for you to use it and return it to the app store without paying a dime to developers. Apple doesn't allow any trials. Amazon Test Drive is a nice middle ground.
  • One-click purchases: Amazon is using its patented one-click purchasing, so downloading apps can be done quickly. Google's Android Market would be the opposite experience, and developers have actually left Android after losing money from consumers not being able to buy their goods. (Rovio of Angry Birds fame notoriously created its own purchase system, bypassing Google altogether. Ironically, the first featured game on the Amazon App Store is an Angry Birds sequel, Angry Birds Rio.)
While the Amazon App Store seems to have the makings of a success, Amazon's end game is still unclear. My BNET colleague Erik Sherman suspects that Amazon's goal is an Android-based tablet that would compete directly with the iPad line. I recently argued that a user-friendly app store, not price, is the biggest reason why Apple is winning the tablet war, and Amazon is off to a good start with its own marketplace.

Photo courtesy of Tsahi Levent-Levi // CC 2.0

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