Amazon Appstore Opens, Without AT&T Support

The Amazon Appstore for Android is officially open for business.

The long-anticipated app store, which stands in direct competition with Google's own Android Market, launched today, with one big caveat: AT&T users can't use it. Amazon broke the bad news this way:

"If you have an AT&T phone or tablet, you currently can't install the Amazon Appstore or purchase apps from it. AT&T is working to allow customers to install the Amazon Appstore and purchase apps from it."

No date was given for when AT&T might allow its users to purchase apps from Amazon, nor was any explanation as to why their customers were excluded from the store.

For those Android users who can access the store, Amazon is offering a number of interesting features. First, as previously reported, the store is offering an exclusive version of the mega-popular game Angry Birds, dubbed Angry Birds Rio. In addition, Amazon is giving it away free, but only for Tuesday's launch day. It's being called the "free app of the day," implying that a new free app (which will eventually cost money) will be featured daily.

Amazon is also offering a unique app "test drive." With test drive, apps a user is considering downloading can be used from a computer's web browser. The app is streamed from Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to the desktop. Not all apps are available to test drive; a logo indicates which ones are.

Users can search and browse apps either from the "Amazon for Android Appstore" app on a phone, or from the web site. Apps can only be downloaded, however, from the phone-based app. The site itself lists six initial app categories:

  • Games
  • Utilities
  • Entertainment
  • Social Networking
  • Music
  • Productivity

Like most other app stores, it also lists the most popular apps, broken down by paid and free apps. The Amazon store, though, updates these lists hourly.

Amazon undoubtedly hopes to capitalize on past dissatisfaction the Android Market has had with developers and users; in fact, the frustration has led to a number of upgrades in the Market. With Amazon's Web presence and profile, however, it's clear that Google faces serious competition in the rapidly-expanding Android universe.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.