Sep 28th, 2010

A pair of rumors eeked out of the mill yesterday regarding Amazon – one of the biggest online retailers in the world. According to a string of meaty tips received by TechCrunch (which they confirmed were accurate), Amazon will be joining Verizon and others in a growing list of vendors looking to provide their own app store experience. Take a look at the list of clauses that comes along with targeting Amazon’s supposed store:

  • For each sale of an App, we will pay you a royalty equal to the greater of 70% of the purchase price or 20% of the List Price as of the purchase date (70/30 is standard, this 20/80 split is somewhat odd and confusing)
  • The List Price is apparently in place so that you can’t sell your app cheaper on other “similar services” — meaning other app stores, presumably
  • The “similar services” should also include the forthcoming Chrome Web Store, if I’m reading this correctly
  • There is a $99 fee to be a developer in this program (the same as Apple’s iOS developer program)
  • It seems like if your app is available on other platforms, you have to make sure to update it at the same time on Amazon’s store that you do in any other store (this will piss off a lot of developers)
  • Apps will have to be laced with Amazon DRM — meaning they will only work on devices they approve (obviously)
  • Amazon has the right to pull any app for any reason (obviously)
  • Apps can also be shown on amazon.com (this is up to Amazon)
  • You can offer free apps
  • The app store is U.S.-only (at least for now)
  • This part is interesting too: “We have sole discretion to determine all features and operations of this program and to set the retail price and other terms on which we sell Apps.”

Suddenly, that sounds like another certain “app store” which developers love to hate these days. Looking at this list of restrictions and clauses makes me shiver, naturally, but not before the question comes to mind: why exactly are they doing this and for what device? That’s what makes the next piece to this puzzle all the more believable – Amazon may be launching an Android-based tablet of their own.

amazon-logo (1)

That rumor also came to surface courtesy of TechCrunch just a couple of hours removed from this original report, presumably courtesy of the same sources that dropped some of the info on the app store. No hard evidence to be had on this one, but it really doesn’t make sense for Amazon to ask for so much control over an application distribution platform if they didn’t have a really good reason.

It’s believed that whatever tablet this may be will be a direct competitor to the iPad, but who didn’t see that coming? Without details, it’s hard to speculate whether or not Amazon has a real shot at this market. Yes, there’s the wildly-popular Amazon Kindle devices, but that’s eReading – it was a ripe market for the taking and they took it. The Android tablet space is a bit more of the same situation except we either know we have tablets coming from some major players (Samsung) or we’re expecting them (Motorola, HTC). More than it has to compete with the iPad, this supposed Amazon tablet will have to compete in its own Android-based circle before too long.

What do you guys think about all this? If it all turns out to be true, would you support Amazon in their efforts? I personally can’t stand looking at that list of clauses found in the developer agreement (for which many have signed an NDA), and I’m having a hard time visualizing Amazon enticing developers to come from iOS to develop for an unproven device with more of the same restrictions. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for more Android devices, but I’m just hoping Amazon doesn’t shoot themselves in the foot here.