Amazon to open Android App Store later this year, developer portal launches in beta

Web retailer Amazon.com is launching its own Android app store both for Android devices and for the Web. Wednesday, the company opened the beta of its developer portal, inviting Android appmakers to enroll in the program and submit their apps for approval.

There may be one "official" Android Market that is run by Google, but that doesn't mean Google necessarily owns the Android application trade. Thanks to the mobile OS's open source underpinnings, there are many third-party app stores designed by carriers, manufacturers, and software companies. Some companies that have released devices running on Android have also created app stores exclusive to their devices.

Amazon has acted as the unofficial in-device music download store for Android, and today the company said the Amazon Appstore (official name) will be a new category on the main Amazon website later in 2011. Unfortunately, the retailer didn't specify whether it will be available as a dedicated app for Android, or whether it will simply be a Web app.

For developers, the Amazon Appstore will differ slightly from Google's Android Market. The annual fee for enrollment in the developer program is $99, and Amazon pays developers 70% of the sale price of an app or 20% of the list price depending on whichever is greater.

Unlike Google's Android Market, apps submitted to the Amazon Appstore must be pre-approved by Amazon before they're listed for sale. Google, by contrast, is much more lassiez faire. It lists all apps with almost no preliminary quality control, and simply "lets the market decide" the fate of the apps.

"Our intent is not to be prescriptive in terms of what constitutes good app design," Amazon's Appstore FAQ says. "Amazon is a big believer in innovation in general, and we hope to feature many creative and innovative apps in the Appstore."

Beyond Amazon's huge Web presence, there are two major reasons its Android Appstore should be appealing: its popular payment platform, and its application in downloadable music, movies, and e-books.

Android has earned the reputation of being the platform where users download lots of apps, but pay for few. A major reason why users have been less likely to buy apps is because the Android Market used to only accept Google Checkout, a less-than-popular online payment method. Only in the last few weeks has carrier billing even been added to the Android Market.

But Amazon's payment platform has been adopted by millions, and if Android users are downloading music on their devices, they already have their credit card information plugged in.

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