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

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Amazon’s 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 had done a better job establishing, supporting and marketing its Android app marketplace, it might not have prevented Amazon, Verizon Wireless 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 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  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.”

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