Amazon knows how to sell things -- that's for sure. But will the leading e-commerce destination be able to sell apps for developers in a way that Google's own Android market has largely been unable to? My belief is, yes. The Amazon Appstore was formally announced on Tuesday.
Amazon must first get developers to sign up and participate; but I suspect that almost all serious Android developers will submit their existing apps for approval. The promise of a lower-friction consumer purchase funnel for apps will be a major part of the appeal. Amazon has millions of consumer credit cards on file and is a trusted retailer. The notion of a one-click purchase (like iTunes) could help developers make much more money off Android.
Here's Amazon's pitch:
Why should you submit your apps for inclusion in the Amazon Appstore for Android?
--For the first time, you will have access to tens of millions of active Amazon customers.
--Amazon’s proven marketing and merchandising features will help you get your apps discovered and in front of the right customers.
--The convenience of using an existing Amazon.com account will make it simple and easy for customers to purchase your apps - both online and on their mobile devices.
The third one is arguably the most important.
There have been persistent developer complaints that consumers aren't buying apps on Android. As a percentage of overall apps downloaded paid apps are considerably lower on Android than other smartphone platforms, iOS in particular. Part of that is the "culture" of Google and Android -- Google favors the mobile Web over apps -- and part of it is the lack of a smooth payment system. (I wrote about how Google's failure to drive Checkout adoption is now hurting the company with Android developers.)
Amazon may be able to use its celebrated recommendations and merchandising capabilities to create the leading Android marketplace. If it succeeds it will be interesting to see how Google reacts.