The highly fragmented Android app market got a major new player today with the launch of Amazon's Android Appstore, which includes the ability to try many apps in a free, browser-based simulator.
Registered Amazon users who enter their phone number can purchase and download Android apps through Amazon using any web browser, or through the Amazon Appstore Android app. Apps are listed using the familiar Amazon page format, with features including user reviews, automated recommendations and 1-Click payment, as well as optional video trailers.
Many apps also include Amazon's new "Test Drive" feature, which lets users try out an emulated version of the app in a browser window before making a purchase.
"Our customers have told us that the sheer number of apps available can make it hard to find apps that are high quality and relevant to them," Amazon VP for electronics Paul Ryder said in a statement "We've spent years developing innovative features that help customers discover relevant products. By applying these features - plus new ones like Test Drive - we're aiming to give customers a refreshing app shopping experience."
The Amazon Android Appstore launched with over 900 games, including 400 that can be downloaded absolutely free. A majority of the Appstore's paid game titles are available for $1.99 or less, with only one game selling for $10 or more.
The retailer is promoting the Appstore's launch by offering with a free version of Rovio's newly launched Angry Birds Rio until the end of the day. Amazon is also premiering the first ad-free Android versions of Rovio's Angry Birds and Angry Birds Seasons, available for 99 cents each. The free Android version of Angry Birds had been downloaded over 30 million times as of earlier this month, according to Rovio.
Android developers who want their titles featured on Amazon's Appstore must join Amazon's Appstore Developer Program and submit their app for testing by the retailer. The developer program comes with a $99 annual fee, though Amazon is currently waiving that fee for the first year.
Android apps can also be acquired through Google's official Android App store, as well as though many carrier-specific Android stores and through manual purchase and installation on the phone. Apple has already filed suit against Amazon over their trademark on the "App Store" name.
AT&T users with Android phones currently can't purchase apps through Amazon's store, though the carrier is working on enabling purchases "in the near future," according to a message on Amazon's site.