As you've seen Amazon's Android Appstore launched this morning. Reportedly it has 3,800 apps at launch, a far cry from the nearly 200,000 now in Google's Android Market. But the fact that this is Amazon and that it has stored credit cards on file should give Google a real "run for its money" -- literally.
The online version of the Android Market is an improvement over the mobile version of the store. And the over the air downloads from the PC are great. However Amazon is likely to do a much better job with the overall user-experience and helping consumers discover Android apps. It's also likely over time to sell more paid apps for developers than Google itself will.
Google has struggled in the past to sell apps because of friction around billing, primarily because of a lack of Google Checkout adoption and inconsistent options across countries and carriers. Amazon alleviates those challenges for developers because it has millions of consumer credit cards on file. One-click buying will apply here just as it does across Amazon on more conventional goods.
Amazon will be using its vaunted, if imperfect, recommendations algorithm and collaborative filtering to help users learn about apps based on purchase and browsing history. It will also be doing some additional things to promote apps: giving away a "free app a day" and allowing users to "test drive" apps online before they buy. They'll get access to an online simulator that will show them what the app is like.
My experience in buying a couple of apps this morning was relatively easy. However the first time you download an app (and the Amazon Appstore app itself) it's a pretty non-intuitive process. That's a criticism I have of Android in general. Thereafter it becomes much simpler.
Amazon's trusted brand, stored credit cards and more user-friendly online experience should make the appstore a big success. It will be very interesting to see how Google reacts if my prediction is correct and Amazon becomes a bigger seller of paid apps than Google itself.