Amazon to Launch Android App Store -- and Tablet, Too?

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Amazon will launch its own Android app store, challenging Google's official app collection, according to TechCrunch. The site uncovered uncovered details about how the store will function, including developer royalties, DRM and a pricing structure. A source also hinted that Amazon is working on building its own tablet computer. Here's a closer look:

Amazon Android Apps

TechCrunch corroborated its report with several sources, so it seems that Amazon will build its own Android app store. The details on how the store will work seem too specific to be mere conjecture. Here's how Amazon is expected to run the store:

  • Amazon will pay developers 70 percent of the sale and take 30 percent -- a standard agreement for app stores. Amazon also mentioned an alternative: 20 percent of the List Price as of the purchase date, which is confusing.
  • Developers can't sell apps cheaper on "similar services," which likely means other app stores. Apps can also be free.
  • Like Apple, there's a $99 fee to become a developer. The store only will be available in the United States for now.
  • If a developer's app is available on other platforms and in other stores, updates must be simultaneous across all channels.
  • Amazon plans on applying its Amazon-only DRM to each app.
  • Apps can be removed for any reason, similar to Apple's policies.

TechCrunch also pointed out some curious language in its report: "[Amazon has] sole discretion to determine all features and operations of this program and to set the retail price and other terms on which we sell Apps." Engadget presumes this language means "that pricing is [Amazon's] call -- not yours -- and they've got some say in how your app's going to work and what it's going to do." If Engadget's analysis is correct, this stipulation is guaranteed to anger many developers.

Amazon's plans come right on the heels of Verizon preparing its own V CAST Android app store -- a direct affront to Google. Google CEO Eric Schmidt is expected to speak today at TechCrunch Disrupt at 10am PT (1pm EST). Perhaps he'll say something ridiculous about this newfound throng of app competitors. On the other hand, this onslaught of Android apps, available through multiple vendors, can only help the platform build its ranks and compete against Apple.

The Amazon Tablet versus iPad ... Versus Kindle?

The same source who leaked Amazon's Android app store also mentioned Amazon's plans to build its own tablet computer and unveil it alongside the app store. Details are scarce on the Amazon tablet, but TechCrunch is confident that because the source is the same one who confirmed the app store, the tablet rumor is likely true.

While building an Amazon tablet to compete against Apple's mega-popular iPad shouldn't come as much of a surprise -- everybody and their mother is building an Android-powered tablet -- it does strike me as odd and perhaps dangerous. Is Amazon serious about pitting its own tablet against the Kindle? Granted, comparing the Kindle to any tablet is unfair -- they're entirely different kinds of devices, altogether. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has asserted that while the iPad is for entertainment-driven consumers, the Kindle is geared toward diehard readers. However, since the iPad and iBooks have put pressure on the Kindle, an Amazon tablet seems like it would damage Kindle sales. That sounds like internal sabotage of Amazon's best-selling product -- a suspect move.

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