Ahead of a likely new Kindle Fire launch next week, Amazon (s amzn) announced Thursday it is launching its Amazon Appstore for Android in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. We don’t know for sure that Amazon is planning to introduce the Kindle Fire internationally, but opening app stores abroad is a critical step toward that goal.
The appstore, which will go by a few different names depending on the country, will offer the same features U.S. customers have been familiar with, including the popular Free App of the Day, personalized recommendations, customer reviews and one-click payments. Some of the apps will also be localized for each market.
Developers will be able to take advantage of the Appstore for Android’s services like GameCircle, which offers leaderboards, game syncing and achievements, and in-app purchase. Amazon previously telegraphed the opening of the appstore abroad when it called for developers to submit their apps for international distribution in June.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, which is now sold out, got off to a strong start in the U.S. last year and validated the 7-inch tablet category. Now, Amazon is facing a lot more competition from Google(s goog)’s Nexus 7, the Barnes & Noble (s bks)’s Nook Tablet and likely an iPad Mini from Apple (s aapl). In order to continue growing, the Kindle Fire will need to go international and it will need a full app store to compete. Also, having an international app store will also be helpful whenever Amazon gets around to launching an expected smartphone.
This is also good news for developers who want more downloads, especially paid downloads, of their apps. While Amazon has gotten some flak for its pricing methods, which it’s eased up on, its appstore has proven to generate a lot of revenue for developers, significantly better than Google Play. Now, we’ll just have to wait and see what exactly Amazon announces next week in Los Angeles, but an international Kindle Fire would make a lot of sense.