published Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Amazon opens app store for Android phones, tablets

SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon.com Inc. is getting into the app-selling arena by opening an online store to distribute software for smartphones and tablet computers running Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

The Amazon Appstore, which was unveiled Tuesday, includes free and paid apps from Android software developers.

The online retailer decided to focus on the market for Android apps because of its rapid growth, said Aaron Rubenson, who is in charge of the Appstore's business operations. Since 2008, a slew of Android-running phones and tablets running Android have been released, and Google's own Android Market app store, which is available on these devices and online, now offers more than 150,000 apps.

As Amazon sees it, this growth can make it hard to discover apps that you like. The company believes its experience helping shoppers find what they want online will translate well — especially since it could use data on what you've bought from Amazon.com in the past to recommend Appstore apps.

Rubenson would not say how many apps the Appstore will include initially, but said there will be a broad selection including note-taking program Evernote and the game PacMan. Prices will be competitive when compared with the Android Market, he said.

The Appstore will also offer such perks as allowing users viewing the site on a computer to test out many apps before buying them and giving visitors a paid app for free each day. The first freebie will be Angry Birds Rio, which is a new version of the popular "Angry Birds" game series that ties in with the upcoming animated movie "Rio." It normally costs $1.

Seattle-based Amazon will be testing all apps before adding them to the Appstore to make sure they work as developers describe them and that they're free of malicious software, Rubenson said. Available apps will conform to Amazon's general content rules, which means the Appstore will, for example, exclude apps that include pornographic content.

The Appstore is available online at Amazon.com/appstore, and a mobile version is available for download at the same Web address.

Besides the software available through the Appstore, Amazon sells a variety of digital content including songs in the MP3 format and movies and e-books for its Kindle electronic reader.

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