How Will Amazon Roll Out Its App Store on Tuesday?

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All signs point to Amazon launching its Android App Store this Tuesday (March 22nd, 2011). There've been "leaks" indicating that this is the store's launch date, but a simpler indicator is that we know Rovio's Angry Birds Rio is coming out on March 22nd (and as a movie tie-in that date will have been nailed down pretty hard) and that it is coming out exclusively on the Amazon App Store.

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So 'when' is pretty certain. The more interesting question is 'how'. In a perfect world where everyone plays nice with each other, Amazon could deliver it's store as an app in the official Android Market. That scenario is extremely unlikely given Google's policy on apps that sell apps. (Remember the Kongregate kerfuffle?) So how will people get the Amazon App Store app on their handsets?

There's a precedent here: GetJar, which is another alternate app store for Android. You (initially at least) use GetJar from it's website. When you find an app you want, you enter your cellphone number into a form and a few minutes later you get a text with a link in it. Follow that link to download and install your app. You can just stick with that system or you can use this system to download a GetJar app which will make the process a bit more like the typical 'browse and tap' service you find in the Android Market.

Amazon could go that route, but there's still a problem: AT&T. As I understand it (and I'm sure I'll be corrected if I've got this wrong) AT&T locks down the version of Android that it ships on its phones so you can't download and install 3rd party app. I know most of the people reading this post would just root their phones and get rid of AT&T's limitations, but Amazon is mainstream. They don't just want gadget geeks who don't think twice about rooting their phones, and I'm sure they aren't willing to ignore AT&T users.

GetJar has this problem with AT&T as well, and they eventually got AT&T to put the GetJar App on the AT&T AppCenter. Has Amazon negotiated a similar deal? It's worth noting that GetJar only offers free apps, while Amazon of course is going to be selling apps. That might make getting AT&T to play nice a thorny issue.

I'm not sure I really understand why we need an Amazon App Store, but I'm very interested to see how Amazon handles getting apps onto Joe and Jane Consumer's Android handset without confusing them. Ideas? Please leave a comment!

Peter Smith writes about personal technology for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @pasmith.

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