Amazon recently announced that they are now interested in developer submissions of Android apps for the international expansion of the Amazon Appstore for Android. Those who are interested can now submit via the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal in order to be ready for the expansion. This summer the Appstore is expanding to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Beyond that there are apparently plans for more, but even a handful of new markets should generate a big surge in popularity for the Appstore in general and the Kindle Fire in particular.
The Kindle Fire has to be what this is all about, of course. We are expecting the next iterations of the Kindle line, both tablet and eReader, before the summer is out. Although their first Android tablet has started to lose some of its initial popularity, it is clear that Amazon has a great deal invested in the idea of mobile devices integrated into their media distribution system.
Because of its integration, however, selling the Kindle Fire outside the US has seemed problematic at best. Amazon has a lot going for them, but media rights need to be established in any country the company chooses to support. That means not just books as with the Kindle eReaders but also movies, television, music, and apps.
Getting the apps will probably be the easiest part for this effort. By setting up a portal by which Android developers can submit their applications, they are actually setting up an interesting alternative to Google Play. Google has had a few incidents with regard to paying their international developers (mostly failing to pay them, actually) that makes an alternate major app store with a proven record huge news.
There are no estimates yet on exactly when the Kindle Fire will be offered outside the United States. It even makes some sense to question whether Amazon will bother marketing the existing model at all. With a newer high resolution model supposedly on the way, as well as a larger version set to follow soon after, waiting an extra month or two to make sure to put the best product forward might be the smart move.
The Appstore for Android has already proven itself able to provide better returns for developers than its Google counterpart. It’s true that many find the extra oversight and extended review process to be painful, occasionally to the point of refusal, but that has not stopped the store from growing rapidly over the past year. Customers seem to value the higher submission standards, if nothing else.
Will this be enough to revive interest in the Kindle Fire? That’s hard to say. With Windows 8 right around the corner and Apple surely waiting to one-up any competition as soon as they are able to justify it financially, it’s an unsettling time to be selling Android tablets. Because of Amazon’s break with Google’s standard interface and store, as well as the ecosystem integration, they stand somewhat apart from the Android crowd and might be able to survive even if interest in Android falls abruptly. The next Kindle Fire is going to have to be impressive to regain the kind of market share that it had at the end of 2011, though.