Amazon readies Android app store

Online shopping website Amazon's Appstore will open later this year

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Online retail giant Amazon is attempting to grab a slice of the fast-growing market for apps by opening its own online store.

It will initially offer programs that run on Google's Android mobile operating system.

Developers can now submit their apps for approval and they should be available later this year.

Amazon's move comes as the competition to become the go-to destination for mobile apps intensifies.

App stores are supposed to provide software developers with a simple process for marketing their products, while simultaneously allowing consumers to easily find the ones they want.

Following Apple's success with its iPhone there are now scores of online app stores.

Game changer

But Amazon believes its familiarity with online retailing will give its app store the edge.

"The sheer number of apps available today makes it hard for customers to find high-quality, relevant products - and developers similarly struggle to get their apps noticed," it said in a blog post.

The Amazon store will provide developers with access to tens of millions of customers, who can make purchases easily using their existing accounts, it added.

To success Amazon will have to balance Google's developer-friendly approach, which makes it easy for them to get their apps approved, with consumer services, said Thibaut Rouffineau, of the developer community the Wireless Industry Partner Connector.

Some users have criticised Google's Android Market for its recommendation and search systems, he said.

"If you look at the features coming from Amazon they seem to be tackling quite a few of those."

While Amazon's Appstore is accepting submissions from developers now, the apps won't be available to buy until later this year - and then only for US residents initially.

The success of Apple's original iPhone app store has attracted developers in their droves - and could ultimately herald a sea-change in how consumers buy software, said Mr Rouffineau.

"It has shaken the whole software industry and shown them [app stores are] the way to go," he added.

Apple will be hoping that it can once again be at the vanguard of that change.

Tomorrow it will open the App Store for its Mac OS platform.

That store will allow people to download approved free and paid-for software straight to their laptops or desktops.

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