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Google Rules Could Squeeze Amazon Android App Store

Google’s (s goog) stance on prohibiting apps in Android Market from being mini-app stores led to the quick demise of Kongregate Arcade, a Flash (s adbe) game portal app that was pulled Wednessday less than a day after it launched. While Google’s quick action is forcing Kongregate to rethink its moves, it could also have an impact on Amazon’s plans for an Android app store.

Amazon (s amzn) recently began inviting developers to submit apps to its Amazon App Store for Android, offering them the promise of consumers being able to shop for apps from both their PCs and mobile devices. Users would be able to go online to, buy an app and have it pushed out to their phone. But as TechCrunch described after an interview with an Amazon officials, users will likely have to install their app purchase through an Amazon application. It sounds like users will also be able to buy an app directly from their phone with an Amazon App Store app as well.

But if Amazon relies on an app available through Android Market to be the distribution point for its Amazon App Store, it could end up getting pulled like the Kongregate Arcade app. Here are the Android Market’s terms of service: “You may not use the Market to distribute or make available any Product whose primary purpose is to facilitate the distribution of Products outside of the Market.” A “Product” is defined as “Software, content and digital materials created for Devices in accordance with the Android SDK and distributed via the Market.”

Amazon is reportedly talking to manufacturers about getting its app store pre-installed on phones. But it looks like those deals become essential if it wants to offer an Amazon app store app on Android devices. Or it will need to get users to side-load the Amazon App Store themselves, which could be tricky for many users. Amazon could still offer mobile users the chance to shop for apps though the mobile web version of, but an app would probably be more popular. Even if users don’t mind surfing from a mobile web site, if installation requires users to go through an Amazon app in Android Market, it could still run afoul of Google’s rules.

Amazon already pre-installs its MP3 store on many Android phones, so this may not be an issue if handset makers continue to work with Amazon. But as Google has shown with its alleged blocking of location provider Skyhook, it can act differently when it looks to push its own products. Google has been accused by Skyhook of pressuring Motorola (s mmi) and others to drop Skyhook’s positioning technology in favor of Google’s Wi-Fi technology. To be honest, I didn’t think Amazon’s app store would be much of an issue at all, but in light of Google’s stance on Kongregate, it’s not out-of-bounds to think Google won’t make it easy for Amazon to get its app store pre-installed.

Google doesn’t seem to have any problem with independent stores like GetJar. And it seems fine with partners such as Verizon (s vz) opening up its own V Cast Apps Store on Android devices. But how easy will it be for Amazon to get its own app store right on the phone next to Android Market? If it has no problem, it will show Android is still very open. But as the Kongregate and Skyhook situations show, Google still has an eye on the competition.

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24 Responses to “Google Rules Could Squeeze Amazon Android App Store”

  1. This article seems inaccurate. The rule is that you can’t use Market to push an alternate app store. Verizon apps would be cooked right into the phones as a seperate app, completely circumventing Market. I looked up GetJar on the market and found nothing, so I presume that is a market that must be sideloaded. Which Amazon would be allowed to do, but would suffer confusion from users who are less capable. Android will let you make money on individual apps, but alternate markets are like taking a grill into mcdonalds and selling burgers to their customers.

  2. COM_by_CRAIG

    “You may not use the Market to distribute or make available any Product whose primary purpose is to facilitate the distribution of Products outside of the Market.”

    So just bundle the Amazon App Store with the Kindle App, then what would be the primary purpose of that app be?

  3. Don’t you think someone at Google & Amazon have chatted about this whole store thing yet? I don’t think Google is going to sit by for 6+ months (since we first heard about it) and watch Amazon spend millions only to watch Google laugh and say “Ha ha ha, you didn’t really think you could do this, could you? Silly Amazon. Go back to selling books and let the big boys handle this whole mobile thing.”

  4. So how does AppBrain get away with it? You can “install” apps from their website, but you still need the Android app on your phone to download the app. The whole purpose of the AppBrain application is to download other apps. Albeit from the Android Market, but it’s still downloading and installing other applications.

    • dynamo hum

      “Albeit from the Android Market”.

      But that’s the whole point! You’re downloading apps from the Android Market so AppBrain is not “getting away” with anything. It’s just another interface to the Market. AppBrain itself doesn’t download or install anything. The Android Market does…

  5. ProfessionalGun

    It sounds to me as though Amazon could just make App purchases a component of their regular Amazon app. That way, the app’s PRIMARY purpose (as worded in Google’s terms) wouldn’t exist as an app delivery service, but as a shop for all things.

    Mightn’t that work?

  6. Amazon should develop a mobile OS for smart phones and tablets and license it like Google. This way it can leverage its online music, book and app store. Amazon already has a great e-reader in Kindle so it would be not that far fetched to develop a mobile OS.

  7. “Or it will need to get users to side-load the Amazon App Store themselves, which could be tricky for many users.”

    Wouldn’t Amazon need you to enable side-loading for the apps you’d be installing through their app store anyways, since they’re not coming through Google’s Android market?

    • Spot on. Was thinking that myself. I think people make the mistake of thinking that google needs to be open by not having any regulations at all. They’ve left the os open enough by letting users install outside apps by just changing one setting. It doesn’t make sense to let apps exist that point to other markets since there could be potential for inexperienced users to get caught to some scam or virus ridden software. And guess what happens then. The whole world blames google for not monitoring enough and ends up by saying the platform isn’t secure enough so buy apple instead.

    • Good spot that is a pretty glaring omission from this artical. Kind of makes the whole artical irrelevant.

      99% (not real stat) of android users have no problem sideloading apps anyway, only ATT that blocks it to my knowledge.

  8. Droid-Eye

    I’ve got to go with Tsahi on this one. I’ve tried several of the “other” markets on my Droid and they all fall rediculously short of Google’s. I bought an Archos 70 (which doesn’t have Google Market preinstalled) and their Appslib market was so terrible that I went out and found a hack to sideload the Google Market. Hopefully Amazon is a big enough name to lure developers into posting their apps in both app stores. That way people who buy Androids without the Market can still get quality apps. I hope it takes enough business away from Google’s that Google will rethink the “standards” for getting Market on devices. Then Amazon can concentrate on charging too much for digital copies of real books.

  9. Ryan,

    While you are correct, I think the appeal of Amazon’s app store is for devices neglected by Google: be it tablets or smartphones that can’t pass Google’s strict signup rules for their market, or just devices that don’t fall in the form factor categories that Google is promoting (DECT phones and in-car entertainment systems for example). For these, Google’s market is essentially blocked.