When people talk about the Kindle Fire’s shortcomings, one of the most common objections is the fact that Amazon has closed their customers into an ecosystem that has no direct connection to the general Android Marketplace. While this is true and does mean that there are far fewer apps at the disposal of customers, that doesn’t mean it’s entirely a negative thing.
The most obvious positive, as far as I can tell, is Amazon’s inspection practices. While they aren’t nearly as restrictive as Apple, neither does Amazon just allow anything that happens to be submitted to make its way into the system. This becomes especially important at times like this when large numbers of inexperienced users are likely to be presented with a kind of device they are completely unfamiliar with. Buying from the Amazon Appstore you have little to worry about, whereas the Android Marketplace has had instances of Malware uploads increase by nearly 475% since just this part July by some accounts. Because of how Google has structured their store model, there’s no easy way for them to preemptively remove these apps.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, there is also the added benefit to users of regularly discounted or free apps. While it is my understanding that there have been issues with this system before, such as developers having been misinformed about the potential for profit when their apps are included in the featured slot, it is nothing but a benefit to the end user. Chances are good that eventually something you want to use will be featured, or at least something that you didn’t realize would be interesting until it popped up.
Kindle Fire owners also have the added benefit of knowing that their device of choice is likely to enjoy ongoing support. Unlike the main Android Marketplace in which developers are often practically obligated to cater to whichever build hit shelves last, it is fair to expect that Amazon will be clinging to their highly customized build for quite a while. This means that not only will the newest apps to hit the store be available to you, but that more developers wishing to enjoy ongoing relevance for their work will be drawn in. Nobody likes to see something they put significant effort into be rendered incompatible a month later.
It would be ridiculous to say that this was anything but a self-serving move on Amazon’s part. If they could have made more money by opening up their software to Google’s store, there is no doubt that it would have been the first thing done. Less infrastructure to develop, if nothing else. The fact is though that by keeping things in house, so to speak, the only people harmed are over at Google.
If having a pure, untouched Android build is really what you would prefer, Amazon has left it quite simple to root the device and make it so. As it stands, though, the Kindle Fire will be a great entry level product for exactly the reasons that many existing tablet enthusiasts will find unpleasant. Unless one is exceptionally wary about being tied into Amazon’s services, few shortcomings will be noticeable in their handling of the Appstore.