updated 03:50 pm EDT, Sun April 24, 2011
Amazon to give Appstore credit with Verizon phones
Amazon is hoping to spur demand for its Appstore portal through a unique tie-in with its own cellphone store, the online retailer said on Sunday. A promo starting Monday will give those buying Android-based Verizon phones a $25 credit towards Appstore downloads. The week-long promo is evidence of how tightly Amazon can work with carriers, the store's wireless head David Camp told AllThingsD.
Agreements like these aren't common, even for companies like Apple that both sell the phone and manage the app store, and suggest Amazon is hoping to kickstart downloads on its alternative to Android Market. Amazon hasn't yet said how many downloads it has had since launching a month ago, but the optional nature of the store and AT&T's block on sideloaded apps have curbed the number of users who are either aware of or can easily install the Appstore.
More promos like this would come in the future, according to Camp.
The store stands as a rare experiment in offering a major alternative to a store that already comes preloaded by the OS designer. Third-party stores were common in the pre-iPhone BlackBerry and Windows Mobile platforms but either weren't installed and rarely got recognition or else had terms that made it too expensive for small developers to get onboard. The App Store, Android Market, BlackBerry App World, and Windows Phone Marketplace have all led to the surging popularity of mobile apps but are either the exclusive store or the default and often controlled accordingly. Amazon if successful could revive the prospects for competitors.
The company has been criticized for carrying some of its download store limitations through to apps. Game developers have criticized Amazon's price policy for preventing a lower price at any other store, even for a temporary sale. They and regular app developers have also warned that Amazon has final say over pricing and can cut the price on an app or make it free without that publisher's direct consent. Amazon makes some concessions to guarantee revenue during a sale but still often cuts the potential profit.
The choice is still regarded by some as better than none at all, since companies like Apple can effectively ban an app altogether on non-jailbroken devices just by rejecting it during the approval process. Worries exist that it's used not just to filter out experimental or controversial content but to shut out competitive apps under claims that they duplicate functionality.