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As smartphone nears, Amazon says Appstore library nearly triples

Amazon says it has a catalog of more than 240,000 apps and games, available in 200 countries on multiple devices.

Amazon's Appstore has shown impressive growth. Screenshot by CNET

Amazon said on Monday that its Appstore catalog has nearly tripled over the last year as the online e-commerce giant set the groundwork for a potential smartphone.

Amazon's own Appstore, which is largely designed for its own Kindle line of devices, but can be accessed by other tablets and smartphones that run Google's Android mobile operating system, now boasts more than 240,000 games and applications, all available on multiple devices in 200 countries.

The announcement comes just two days before Amazon is scheduled to hold an event in Seattle, where it is widely expected to unveil its smartphone. A smartphone would join its line-up of tablets, e-readers, and a streaming video box. Amazon sees these products as a way to increasingly tie its services to its customers, particularly through its Prime premium membership program.

Proving that the Appstore has a sufficient number of apps will be critical as Amazon sets upon the task of convincing consumers that its smartphone is worth picking up. Alternative mobile platforms such as BlackBerry and Windows Phone have struggled to win over consumers because key apps were missing, but many Android apps will run on Amazon's altered version of the mobile OS.

Because Amazon's devices run on an altered (or "forked," in industry jargon) version of Android, they don't have access to key Google services and programs such as Google Maps, Gmail, or the Google Play store. Instead, Amazon's Kindle Fire line of tablets and Kindle Fire TV rely on its own custom-built Appstore.

In addition, Amazon boasted today that interest in its version of Android has drawn increasing developer interest, and that the number of new developers who joined last month doubled from a year ago.

"Developers tell us that they experience improved reach, greater monetization, and, oftentimes, higher revenue when they have their apps and games in the Amazon Appstore," said Mike George, vice president of Amazon Appstore and Games, in a statement.