Launched on March 22, 2011, the Amazon Appstore celebrated its first birthday not long ago. In that time it has evolved pretty consistently, notwithstanding a bit of political drama involving the International Game Developers Association and, separate of that issue, a predictable tussle with Apple stemming from the latter's effort to monopolize the words "App" and "Store."
Politics aside, the Amazon Appstore's greatest accomplishments have been technological. The platform has pushed out some innovative features, such as "Test Drive," which leverages Amazon's EC2 cloud to allow users to preview apps from the comfort of their browsers by running a virtual instance of Android -- a great example of Amazon's integration of the different resource pools at its disposal.
At the same time, the introduction last November of the Kindle Fire -- which can download apps only from Amazon's platform -- helped integrate the Amazon app market further, although it remains to be seen how successful this tablet will be in the long run.
Amazon Appstore 2.3Late last week, the Appstore continued its evolution when Amazon announced version 2.3 of the platform. The two major new features in the release include:
- The ability to download apps of up to 50 megabytes over a mobile connection, an increase over the previous limit of 20 megabytes. (For anything bigger than 50 megabytes, you'll still need a wifi link, silly as that may seem.)
- Less intrusive notifications about app updates, which can now be more easily disabled. On second thought, this may not represent a new feature as much as a bug fix, but it will make users smile all the same.
And on that note, Amazon's market share in the app world has been growing impressively. Unsurprisingly, given how long it's been around and the ubiquity of iPhones, iPads and other iDetritus, Apple continues to lead the pack when it comes to app store revenue. But Amazon follows close behind. The next year may well see Amazon surpass Apple, whose growth in this niche has slowed as its app lineup has become saturated and as Apple has unveiled few new technical or commercial innovations.
Thus things are looking up for Amazon in the Android world. To be sure, it's a newcomer with a lot of catching-up to do. And much of the Amazon Appstore's longterm success will depend more on the fate of the Kindle Fire and other hardware to which the platform caters than on the features of the store itself. But while Apple sits relatively idle and Google proves itself incessantly incapable of making a successful foray into the app-store world, Amazon is going places. Stay tuned.