May 09, 2011, 3:59 PM —
The Amazon Android AppStore isn't just a nice repository of Android business, gaming, and lifestyle applications, it's a new nozzle on the Amazon wallet-and-purse vacuum cleaner. Just to get in the store, you have to sign up with a credit source. Imagine walking into a Target department store and having the security guard ask if you have any money, then requiring you to reveal it before you can walk inside -- even to browse. Shoppers would revolt. Amazon, however, is betting that we won't -- even though what they're asking for is tantamount to the same show-us-the-money-first action.
Yes, there are free games inside the Amazon Android AppStore. One of the hooks that Amazon used successfully to entice Android users inside was to put an ad link into the free version of Roxio's Angry Birds to a release of the latest version, Angry Birds Rio, before the Google Market had it available in a free form. Many people, like me, were enticed. Then I touched the link to the store. That's when the trouble began. I was about to be (in an Amazon-patented move) 1-Clicked.
The sign-up process requires one to have a funding source, meaning a credit card. You need to give all the details. Barring that, you're barred. No free, or even paid relationship with Amazon in this process. Show them the money or you can't even window shop.
Amazon is a huge retailing machine, deftly skirting local sales taxes, that is trying to be very convenient for you to purchase everything from Gruyere cheese to spark plugs. They're especially adept at marketing cloud computing resources. But they're not good at everything. The Amazon Android App Store is significantly smaller than the Google Market. It can be argued that the Google Market also charges for, and gleefully accepts credit cards. That's true. However, you can get as many free apps as you want without revealing credit card information at all. You get to browse for free, without showing any cash or hovering it near a vacuum cleaner.