updated 08:10 pm EDT, Sat March 19, 2011
Amazon Appstore slated for March 22
The upcoming Amazon Appstore was tipped late Friday as coming on March 22. The launch would include both the Amazon website as well as a dedicated app. Wired in providing the details also confirmed an extra restriction on developers that would prevent them from linking to other apps through any other portal than Amazon's store.
Earlier, public details had pointed to Amazon making DRM optional and taking the same 30 percent cut as on stores from Apple, Google, and Microsoft. The Appstore may thrive on Amazon following its usual strategy of undercutting rivals on price and could charge 10 cents less on a 99-cent app. Support for the store from developers isn't fully understood but will include an initial Angry Birds Rio exclusive.
The store is the first major alternative store for Android and a gamble that phone owners will be willing to go beyond Android Market for a better deal or eventually for exclusive titles. It may, however, face difficulty gaining traction through Google's own refusal to maintain openness on Android. Carriers like AT&T are allowed to block apps that don't come from Android Market; since Google doesn't allow third party stores within the Market, many AT&T users won't have the option of trying the Appstore, either through the portal app or through the web.
Amazon's option may still be a test of how well a well promoted third-party app store will work on a modern smartphone platform. Apple bans third-party app stores outright, while Microsoft only allows phone makers to offer a sub-section within its own store. Platforms like the BlackBerry or webOS support third-party stores but usually have very little traction. Those who officially restrict the stores have argued for a consistent, controlled experience but also prevent variety in prices and stores with potentially looser policies.