Amazon.com (NSDQ: AMZN) is close to launching its own app store for Android, which is something that just about everyone in mobile has been expecting for some time. While one of the greatest online retailers hasn’t been a stranger to mobile, this could mark the beginning of a much bigger push as a digital content company — starting with mobile first.
An Amazon app store could open the door to everything that other industry players, such as Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), are attempting to do from scratch. For instance, it could include the sale of books, applications, video and even the platform to store all of a users’ content in the cloud. Right now, TechCrunch is only reporting a handful of details, and frankly, it is even hesitant to say whether the information is correct. We’ve asked Amazon to comment, and will update when we hear back.
But in the meantime, we see two obvious reasons why Amazon will likely enter the app store market:
1. Amazon is a retailer that sells both physical goods and digital goods, like books, music and video. It already has already experimented with mobile apps, including ones for shopping and selling music. That makes it really easy to extend to mobile and to other digital content, like applications.
2. Amazon already has a huge billing platform, which has millions of credit cards on file around the world, much like iTunes. Android is the logical platform to experiment because it’s open and in need of third-party providers. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has primarily integrated its own Checkout payment platform and credit-card billing in some countries. Developers are looking for another way to monetize.
Some of the details that TechCrunch has uncovered so far: There will be the usual 70/30 revenue split with developers, but also a more confusing list price structure; there is a $99 developer fee to participate; apps will come with Amazon DRM, so they only work on devices they approve; Amazon can pull apps from the store at any time, and Apps can show up on Amazon.com. So far, it’s only coming to the U.S. Based on a tip, TechCrunch speculates further that this could precede Amazon producing it’s own tablet.
Logically, it makes sense, and I can see developers and publishers welcoming Amazon’s arrival. Amazon knows what it takes to distribute and merchandise both physical and digital goods, and would be able to lift awareness about mobile goods through it’s online presence. Amazon is not a company that talks about products before they are announced, so it will have to seriously up its profile in mobile in order to compete with the big players already hard at work.