With the success of Apple’s app store, everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. All of the major operating system platforms have launched a store . Platform vendors such as Apperian and MobileIron have enabled some form of app catalog and distribution and of course there are the carriers. What’s missing in this picture? Actual retailers. Apple created the full ecosystem to break the carriers lock on app sales. However, it doesn’t make sense long term for each party in the ecosystem to create and maintain an app store. It’s a waste of resources.
Hence, Amazon enters the fray to capitalize on the next big digital movement — mobile. Today the LA times wrote a post titled “Amazon to take on Google’s Android Marketplace with an app store of its own“. While the article discusses the store launching with Android based apps, there are many reasons why it could become a marketplace for a wide range of apps. Amazon is the premier digital retailer closing 2010 with $34 billion in sales. Like Apple, that has 200 million credit cards on file, Amazon already has an established payment method on file for over 114 million customers globally. Furthermore, it’s already selling content services and already has apps for major mobile operating systems in place. The company also has one of the better recommendation and discovery mechanisms in the ecommerce arena. Add these together and Amazon can alleviate the discovery issues in the marketplace. I don’t believe we will see Apple apps in an Amazon store but we should see apps from Android, RIM, Windows Phone and others. While I know the exclusion of Apple apps will shrink Amazon’s market potential it is unlikely that anyone but Apple will sell Apple-certified apps. Apple and Amazon will be fierce competitors in the digital arena. The only way that could work is if Apple and Amazon agreed to Apple receiving a substantial portion of the 30% fee that Amazon will charge for distribution. A nice thought but it’s unlikely that either party would go there.
What’s next? Perhaps Ebay/Paypal will focus more on the mobile app market. Ebay has already built a booming mobile commerce business, selling over $2B in global mobile sales in 2010. Amazon should consider creating social commerce where mobile apps can easily be referred to social network friends. RIM and Windows Phone should jump on this right away. These two companies need any advantage they can get to fight Apple and Google. And there is still the issue of an enterprise app delivery model that may become the domain of service providers. I’m thrilled to see a new multi-OS channel, beyond GetJar, emerge in the landscape. It’s just another lost opportunity for the carriers but a gain for the overall mobile landscape