Amazon's Appstore for Android is well-executed and poised for successMarch 22, 2011: 10:44 AM ET
The Store works as advertised, which might be bad news for Verizon's efforts.
Two big Google (GOOG) Android stores launched this week. Verizon(VZ) launched its VCast Apps for Android on the new Thunderbolt LTE Handset late last week and this morning, after a slight delay and a last minute trademark lawsuit by Apple, Amazon(AMZN) launched their Appstore.
Both claim to be a more curated app buying process. However, they are a study in contrasts.
The VCast App store wouldn't launch when I got my phone initially. It had to update itself - which took a few minutes. After updating it hung and had to be restarted. Although it now works, scrolling is jerky and it doesn't feel like a polished app. Remember, this is a Verizon app on a Verizon phone. They probably should have made sure it worked before they put it in the box.
The Amazon Appstore had to be installed after a download process, but it went extremely smoothly on three different devices on three different carriers. So smoothly, in fact, I was playing the free Angry Birds Rio within a minute of downloading the Appstore on my commute into work. There are over 4000 apps in the Appstore at launch, of which, over 1000 are free.
**One significant caveat here: Unless you unlock the phones, AT&T(T) Android devices won't let you install applications that don't come from the Android Market. Amazon currently only offers their Appstore via download which means AT&T users can't use the Amazon Appstore yet.
The first app I tried to download for VCast was the IZOD IndyCar App (which is an "Apps by Verizon"). When I tried to load the app, it took me to the Google Android Marketplace to do updates. This isn't how it is supposed to work.
And finally, when I installed the Amazon Appstore on my Verizon phone, it told me that I had an app ready to install on my new machine (Amazon keeps track of downloaded apps). Verizon won't even let its VCast App Store work on other carriers. It is a Verizon-only affair.
Also, you can make purchases and manage your account in your desktop web browser on Amazon which is nice.
Both stores claim to offer a more curated app store experience more like Apple's(AAPL) App Store. Amazon's worked flawlessly on three different devices I tested on Verizon (Thunderbolt 4G), T-Mobile (Galaxy 4G) and Sprint (EVO). Verizon's VCast took some serious coaxing to work (poorly) on its own device.
VCast as a Verizon exlusive has another significant downside: if you ever plan on leaving Verizon, you are leaving your apps behind as well. That's a pretty significant commitment to a carrier that most people won't be willing to make.
Amazon's Appstore is device agnostic (so long as it is Android and lets you sideload apps). In fact, Amazon could start delivering Windows Phone 7 or Blackberry apps at some point in the future and theoretically could let users jump platforms. That's just speculation at this point, however.
Most importantly, Amazon's app store works really well.
In my initial tests, Amazon nailed the third-party Android app store. Verizon flunked.
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