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Google’s Android Market Neglect Opens Door for Amazon and Others

Amazon’s (s amzn) rumored Android Store, which is still not official yet, could add confusion and more work to the lives of developers. But in talking to some Android developers, they see a lot of potential in the new store and improved prospects for selling apps, which says a lot about the current state of Android Market. Make no mistake, even if Google (s goog) had done a better job establishing, supporting and marketing its Android app marketplace, it might not have prevented Amazon, Verizon Wireless (s vz) or other competitors from launching competing stores. If Google had spent more time on Android Market, those stores probably wouldn’t have as much interest from developers, many of whom are clamoring for an alternative that can make them more money.

“It remains to be seen if it’s good in the long run but what’s exciting is Amazon has proven the ability to move product,” said Ben Gottlieb, president of mobile app maker Stand Alone Inc. “It all depends on the implementation. But if they live up to what they say, we can make more money.”

That’s a real issue. Gottlieb, who sells a crossword app, says he makes 20-30 times more selling his apps in the App Store (s aapl) compared to Android Market. It’s gotten a little better lately, but it’s still discouraging trying to sell in Android Market, which has more than 80,000 apps. Developers like Gottlieb say the store needs more recommendation and discovery tools, more categories, a better check-out system and more marketing muscle. These are all things that Amazon could immediately address.

Arron La, maker of the Advanced Task Manager app, said Amazon could help ignite sales by giving better recommendation tips and making checkouts easier for users. He said Google Checkout can be a nightmare at times, sometimes charging people multiple times for one app. A reliable and familiar system like Amazon’s could prompt people to open up their wallets, something they don’t do that much of in the Android Market. He also hopes that Amazon will do more to promote apps and advertise its app store, which Google has shied away from.

Google, for its part, is working on a number of changes, including a new web-based Android Market and a reported deal with PayPal (s ebay) for payments. And it just expanded the number of countries that can buy paid apps.Even with those improvements, La feels better about Amazon because the company seems more committed to making money, something Google seems less interested in. Google claims it doesn’t make any money from Android Market.

“Once you have the right things in place and you get that ecosystem going, you can definitely make money out of it,” he said. “But that’s been what’s hurting Android Market. Everyone using Google devices, they want and expect everything for free. When Google released Android market, they had no paid apps in the beginning.”

To be sure, an Amazon Android store or a similar market from Verizon Wireless could be a headache for developers. Developers would have to get in the habit of submitting and updating apps in multiple markets. Users might get confused as to who to turn to for apps or support. Amazon will have the ability to turn down apps and has stated it won’t approve offensive or pornographic content. It could lead to some gripes from developers about rejected apps, similar to complaints about the App Store, and it’s unclear if it will be as easy as one click to buy an app and get it on an Android device.

If Amazon proves to be a real player in the app market, expect a lot of developers to look Amazon’s way. They’ll be happy to get something closer to an App Store experience for their apps. “Apple is about the making the whole experience pleasant while Google is just focused on getting the job done and it’s not always pretty,” Gottlieb said. “Amazon is somewhere in between and it’s definitely closer to Apple than Google.”

Related research from GigaOM Pro (subscription req’d):

11 Responses to “Google’s Android Market Neglect Opens Door for Amazon and Others”

  1. @Brian.

    Thank you for the info, Brian. At a first sight, looking to your suggested link, it is as you say…DISCOVER android apps (all I see is iPhone ones). This is succinct enough to summarize my bad-written-English-post-hard-to-follow (abstract? I agree). I should have aimed my post as a response to Joe’s post: as far as I can’t judge the android Market from the phone perspective, I can judge it from the internet, which supports Ryan’s article: There’s not a good support for Android apps; there’s not an established supportive point of call, at all.

    Hope this is enough to contextualise my prior post. It did the job getting me a good tip, though ;).

    Again thank you Brian…you say “meaner”, I wonder why? I am appreciative enough to understand how good that can be for my paper.


  2. Thank you for the article. I am an iPhone user and there’s not much to point out to the App Store, to be honest. I’d agree to Apple being choosy with the apps they sell (which can upset devs), but having such a huge offer, they can afford. When I surf the app available offer in the app store, I don’t want to waste time on choosing an app that fits my intention and purpose, which may not be true for some; sometimes I have the extra leisure time to waste (not often) and do find consistency through all different apps providers, which makes it worthwhile the time spent. The other consistency (a good Apple attribute, probably their best selling point…) is their web front. The way app store is organised obeys to same iPhone front app criteria: easy to find, categorize and learn about a specific app and buy it.

    I am researching literature material on apps for iPhone and android, for my uni final year project. Because I don’t have an android mobile phone (yet), my research is based on the web and it’s confusing to get an idea of what’s available on the Market (Android). I spent 30 min gathering iPhone specific apps info and I still am in doubt of what some apps (specific for the research) do for Android Market, after 45 min. The first page search from the browser engines gets me no dedicated space for ALL apps available; several pages are forums or articles about Android specific apps.

    Ryan Kim’s article made sense to me after this weekend’s work; giving me hope on my research skills (with lot to improve) and motivation, defied nevertheless by this “chaos” (if I am allowed to summarise the article content). This opportunity winks to Amazon well known visionary attributes that can attract Google (or not bother it much) who’s probably too busy (dedicated?) with the android project itself.

    I do reiterate that this is only applicable to my internet “commons” judgement and cannot be applied to the phone front as my personal judgement cannot be assisted by a real android apparatus the same way Joe’s post is.

    If by any chance my web search is failing and my search parameters are not efficient can someone help and shed some light and find the best way to the All-in-one “grail” page. This is highly appreciated. Thank you

  3. I have ZERO idea what the author is talking about. Everybody I know with an Android phone is fully aware of the Android Market as soon as they buy it…and I’ve purchased and/or downloaded at least 50 apps from the Market and have NEVER had a problem being double-charged or confused about how to use it.

    This entire story seems…well…totally made up.

    • You must not have looked — there’s a bunch of garbage in the android market now. NES emulators packed with warez ROMs are being sold there, not to mention all the sex-related stuff. More recently someone has blatantly stolen free apps from XDA and sold them on the market.

      It really is a mess.

  4. As bad as Google’s android marketplace is, Ryan, I think Amazon is after far more than a app marketplace.

    I expect Amazon to quickly position themselves as the Android equivalent of iTunes/App Store/Apple TV — the Android digital media ecosystem to Apple’s digital media iOS ecosystem.

    Books, apps, games, movies, music, tv shows, available on stationary devices and mobile devices, easily moved from one device to another.