Amazon.com, the leading e-retailer on the Web, has officially launched it’s Appstore for Android.
Amazon’s previous foray into casual games, buying Reflexive Entertainment for its studio and distribution technology, didn’t pan out so well. Amazon.com is not exactly on the same level of Big Fish Games or Valve’s Steam when it comes to digital distribution.
But, the Android Marketplace could be a lot more successful.
For one, it’s very slick. Had Amazon launched its Android Marketplace last year when Google’s own Android market sucked instead of now when Google’s Android Market is actually slick as well, it would have had a bigger impact. Nonetheless, the user experience is equal to iTunes in ease of use.
Two, according to Techcrunch, Amazon has added a feature where users can click a button to “test drive” an Android game, and play it in their browser before downloading it for their Android device. Basically, their technology emulates the game play on the browser so you can try the game out before you download (and perhaps pay for it) on your Android device. I searched the Amazon store for this feature, and couldn’t find. I have seen a screen shot (below) so I assume it’s there.
Most Android games are free so if you really need to test drive a game for free before you decide to download it on your phone for free, then you probably are not going to buy it. But, as Android games are better monetized, this will be a nifty feature. And, I must assume Google will add something similar since it’s a natural fit with their Chrome Store.
The big story here is that Apple has always had an advantage in that buying apps has been much easier to do than buying apps for an Android phone. With all the cool features that Google and now Amazon are offering, that advantage is going away. It’s just as easy to buy an app on an Android phone as an iPhone. And once that happens, the winner of Apple VS. Android will come down to who sells more handsets.
Finally, Rovio is selling Angry Birds: Rio exclusively through now on Amazon’s Android Store. This isn’t a huge Angry Birds launch (e.g., not as big as future Facebook launch), but the fact that Amazon got this exclusive, shows they are taking the Android market a lot more seriously than they took the casual games downloads market before.