We take a look at Google’s Android Market and see what new slant Amazon are adding to the digital distribution medium the Amazon Appstore.
The Amazon Appstore is a far more versatile online shopping experience, but then that’s not entirely surprising when you consider selling stuff online is just what Amazon does best, Google has other things to do so its provision of the Android Market is basic but it gets the job done.
Amazon’s Appstore has a good level of detail and a range of options in how you find what you’re looking for. Each app you click on has information on download restrictions, release date, average customer ratings and sales ranking. Then there’s the more technical side of things including file size, version, permissions the app needs on your phone and the minimum operating system version required.
Navigation is well catered for on Amazon, there’s an extensive range of categories and sub-categories to narrow down your search, as well as specific sections for best sellers, top rated, new releases, free titles and special deals.
The deals feature is a plus point Amazon has over Android Market, there are timed periodic deals, such as a ‘deal of the day’ with a ticking clock showing how long is left, these reductions are usually quite substantial and sometimes include titles which are free for the duration of the deal. It’s a relatively new dimension of online distribution seen in a few places elsewhere such as Valve’s Steam sales, but it’s good that Amazon have latched onto it as a technique for selling apps and we can see it becoming quite a draw for regular deal hunters.
There’s also a featured developers tab with specific approved developers listed such as Gameloft and Adobe, clicking on these will take you to a list of apps from the particular developer. It’s a nice feature which isn’t present on Android Market and you also get the reassurance that these developers have been ‘approved’ by Amazon.
Android Market is a much simpler affair which is in keeping with Google’s style, it’s also integrated nicely with Google’s ‘hub’ of Gmail, Reader, Calendar, Documents and so on. There are only three tabs at the top of the page for Featured, Top Paid and Top Free, then there are the main categories down the left-hand side – there are only two main ones, these being Games and Applications but each has their various subcategories underneath, such as Racing and Arcade under Games, and Entertainment and Finance for Applications. Clicking on an App reveals one of Android Market’s major strengths, the depth of the detail and the slick presentation.
The product pages are clean and wonderfully simple, again in that signature Google minimalist style. You’re presented with a product page with four tabs at the top and a nice illustrative screenshot or logo image, the contents of the various tabs are presented below the main image, in the default Overview tab there’s a quick bit of description blurb which is nicely succinct and there’s a link to the developer’s website together with screenshots, embedded video footage of the app in action and a few quick user review excerpts.
We think Google has done a good job here in providing all the information you could want with plenty of handy reference material, such as the integrated media content, to help you make an informed decision when buying apps.
One of the things Google has done very well here is repeated notes on what an app has and what it requires – the requirements, including the OS version, are immediately below the description, but they’re also in a neat little side tab on the right which gives all the important details you could ever need about a given app. Of the four tabs at the top the remaining three are User Reviews, What’s New – a rundown of recent updates to the app, and Permissions, for details of what the app will access on your phone.
In terms of pricing, on Android Market the cheapest are around 50 pence while the most expensive are approaching a fiver, which seems a bit steep, as more flashy 3D games become the norm perhaps £5 will seem more acceptable for such titles but for your average run-of-the-mill apps keeping them below that £5 mark seems like the best option to us.
On Amazon Appstore the starting price for most apps is $0.99, around 61 pence, most expensive are games such as Guitar Hero 5 at $7.99, which equates to about £4.98.
The range of apps on both stores is staggering, literally in the thousands, on the Amazon Appstore the New Releases tab will have, at any given time, hundreds of new titles to browse through. On either site you will be clicking through a lot of pages if you want to see the whole range in any section, your best bet in either case is to search for keywords.
There’s one particular point of note about Amazon Appstore, an advantage it has over Android Market is it includes titles by developers who simply aren’t on the Marketplace, Gameloft, for example, has virtually boycotted Android Market due to difficulties with developer usability but is present on Amazon with several titles.
One difficulty with Amazon Appstore is that it isn’t with us yet, as the quoted dollar prices above suggest it is currently only available for customers in the US. It is allegedly on the way to our shores and as Amazon already have an established presence in the UK it seems reasonable to think they will make good on this and bring the service to us fairly soon, but in the meantime the buck stops with Android Market.
Overall we were more impressed with Android Market’s visual style, simplicity and the quantity and quality of information on each app, plus the obvious advantage that you can already access it in the UK.
Amazon Appstore has potential, the deals are neat and its presentation provides the user with a lot of useful options, more than Android Market, plus it has apps from developers not present on Google’s service.
However, the detail is lacking and the visual style is not particularly flattering, though it does tie in with Amazon’s standard website design.