Amazon's new Android app store will "help customers find and discover" apps, the company promises. Amazon will approve apps and -- presumably -- take a cut.
"The sheer number of apps available today makes it hard for customers to find high-quality, relevant products -- and developers similarly struggle to get their apps noticed," the company said in a post on its developer blog.
There are no specifics on how this might work in practice or what we, the users, might see. So let's speculate! "Amazon's innovative marketing and merchandising features are designed to help customers find and discover relevant products from our vast selection," the company says, "and we're excited to apply those capabilities to the apps market segment."
In Crave's experience, Amazon's "innovative marketing and merchandising features" amount to several emails a day alerting us to great deals on products we never had any intention of buying.
So we expect if you browse Amazon's Android store while logged in, you'll be bombarded for years afterwards with recommendations for hot new compass, flashlight and menstrual-calendar apps because of that one night you got lost in the dark and forgot you were a guy.
Manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC, and third parties such as doubleTwist, all have their own Web-based app stores and app managers, because Google doesn't offer an easy way to manage and download apps on your computer.
But although there's plenty of precedent for alternatives to the Android Market, Amazon hasn't shown much interest in the platform so far. Its pathetic Shopping app just sends you to a Web page, although its Kindle app is decent. With so little effort expended on the platform so far, why should this be any different?
Amazon is big and cheap, and its search works. But its high opinion of its own brilliance at helping people find and browse relevant stuff is ill founded, in our experience, and mainly based on the blunt instrument of sending you five emails a day.
Try looking at what DVDs they have on special offer at the moment: it's a pig-ugly mess that seems to assume everyone wants standup comedy. So we have no faith whatsoever that its Android Market will be any better than Google's at helping you find good apps.
There's only one way to improve the Android app experience: more apps worth paying for. Make it clear to developers that they can make good money from creating apps for the platform and the cream will quickly rise to the top, however you search for it.
And in fairness, that's Amazon's explicit aim. If it dupes enough people into getting spammed, maybe it'll work and money will course through the Android Market's silicon veins -- which will be good news for the rest of us.