I Prefer Amazon’s AppStore to the Android Market and Apparently I’m Not Alone

Do you want to know my #1 pet peeve with the Android Market? How unnecessarily difficult they make switching devices. I upgraded to a new Droid 4 last week and I STILL don’t have all of my apps set up yet. Contrast this with Amazon, where all of my apps were all ready to reinstall as soon as I logged into my account.

The basic problem is that the Android Market doesn’t track apps for your account unless you spend money on them … which is perhaps the most idiotic thing I have ever heard about. This means trying to fish through all of the Flashlight and Countdown Timer and RPN Calculator apps yet again to find the good ones.

I am not saying this is something evil on the part of Google, just that I can’t stand the design. The store itself still has a lousy mobile UI (though it HAS improved over the last few year I’ve been using it), and I appreciate the auto-update feature and the remote install from the web as well. It also auto-installed a bunch of apps when I synced up my account … about half of which I subsequently uninstalled. So that is pretty much a wash compared to Amazon which makes you manually install and update everything.

A few years ago there was talk about the fact that while everyone loved Google for all of their free stuff, there seemed to be a certain reluctance about providing financial information to Google on top of everything else. And since then we have seen again and again that the Android Market has failed as a commercial venture thus far.

With Android the leading smartphone platform worldwide with ~50% of the market, and with more than 400,000 apps … it commands less than a 10% revenue share in apps! Is it mistrust of Google? The ‘Culture of Free’ that Google cultivates? I’m really not sure – but the bottom line is that most people simply aren’t buying from Google.

Turns out I am not alone in my feelings … based on a Distimo study cited at GigaOm.

Distimo said that of the top 110 apps that appear in both the Android Market and Amazon Appstore, 42 of them make more money on Amazon than on Android Market. Overall, 28 percent of the revenue in those top apps came from the Appstore. That’s a big showing for an Appstore that is less than one year old and has 26,826 available applications, compared to more than 400,000 worldwide for Android Market, according to Distimo.

This was part of the discussion even before Amazon entered the Android app market, because Amazon was cited as a trusted supplier that folks readily buy stuff from regularly. So for Amazon, getting into ebooks was an easy transition for consumers, as was music, streaming video, downloadable computer games and now Android apps.

Google, in spite of being the king of search, having a massive user base for GMail and Reader and Docs and Android phones … simply isn’t a place people want to buy stuff. Amazon’s MP3 store took off right away and has a decent market share, but Google’s Music store has gone nowhere in more than six months. And so on. Is this an ‘active avoidance’ related to all of the recent stuff I have talked about with regards to how Google uses data and tracks users … or is it that people see Google as ‘free’ but are willing to pay for stuff at Amazon? I don’t know.

Another interesting fact:

One interesting fact that emerged is that about 50 percent of Amazon’s apps don’t appear in Android Market, said Distimo. That suggests that, while many app makers are simply porting over their apps from Android Market to Amazon Appstore, a big number of apps are bypassing the Market and going straight to Amazon. It’s unclear if this is just Kindle-versions of established Android apps, but it still suggests that developers are making specific investments in Amazon apps.

As noted, there are certainly a number of ‘Kindle Fire Edition’ apps, but 14,000? Not likely.

I wonder – does Google care? I have talked about the appearance of apathy in the customer experience I see from Google. It is as if they really don’t care about the smartphones their OS goes into, only that it delivers eyeballs to ads that generate revenue. Which, again, isn’t a bad thing – just a different way of looking at things. In that case perhaps they don’t care about the app revenue directly, only that there are apps that being eyes to screens that generate revenue through ads. I don’t know – just speculating.

Personally I prefer Amazon for any number of reasons including those mentioned above – and having a centralized account where I can easily check out my music, games, apps and so on is convenient.

What about you? How do you view all of this stuff? Which market do you prefer? Do you think it matters to Google whether or not they make money with apps?

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7 replies

  1. I’ve never had a problem with free apps from the Android Marketplace not coming across when resetting my device.  I am not sure why you are.   Now getting all the apps to INSTALL, well that’s another battle.  I usually try to be in wifi when I sign in the first time to avoid using 3G or 4G but even then the Market app seems to bog down when you have multiple downloads.

    My BIGGEST beef with the market is that the search on the Android Marketplace SUCKS big time.  It’s better through the web interface but on device it’s a pain to find apps sometimes.

  2. Since Android 2.2, you can now (and I believe it is checked by default) back up your Android device. This includes pulling back all applications (and data), both free and paid, and even things like Wifi networks. Apple recently replicated this with iCloud backups in iOS 5. Been in Android since 2.2, which is from May 2010.


  3. Hmmm … according to Google itself “Note: free applications are not saved to My Apps after you remove them.” 

    I understand what you are saying, and on my Droid 4 my WiFi simply worked (so cool), but the apps installed were just paid ones.  I even went to my Droid Pro and pulled up the same app on my Droid 4 market and it had no clue I had ‘bought’ it before.

    • Not referring to Android Market. Talking about the backup functionality on the phone itself:


      “Data backup
      Apps can participate in data backup and restore, to ensure that users maintain their data after performing a factory reset or when switching devices.”
      When this first came out, apps hadn’t updated to handle this, but most do now. I can tell you that my free apps do indeed restore back to my phone. Not sure what issues you may be having with a particular device.

      • Well, considering this post is ABOUT the Android market … 😉

        As for ‘particular device’ … I have had the EXACT experience across 3 motorola phones, 2 samsung, 3 HTC, 2 LG across 3 carriers as well as four tablets.  When I set up each of them, a bunch of stuff was auto-installed, but none of the free stuff registered or showed up on my device.  Nor did it indicate (like Amazon) that it had already been ‘bought’ when I visited the page.  Just plain crappy design.

        People make a big deal about how Android isn’t tethered to a computer – usually as a way of putting down iOS.  Strange that now in 2012 I can peruse my entire app history on my iPad or iPod Touch … but need a computer to do the same for my Android phone … 

  4. The Amazon Appstore is great but it takes forever to update apps. Luckily, apps like Juice Defender, can be updated using google but Amazon keeps asking me to downgrade the app.

  5. I agree, some apps are updated on the Google Marketplace days if not weeks before Amazon which really annoys me. Those that I got free from Amazon but wanted to pay for on Google (to support the dev and get faster updates) would not allow me to purchase because it said that I already bought it which drives me nuts.  
    Auto Backup/Restore
    If your free apps don’t download automatically (which most should) you can always see your history in the Marketplace (from a browser) and simply click on them and load from there. It saves your transaction history for both free and paid and is still much easier than Amazon (IMO). You can click on every app and simply install from a PC or MAC. Again not that it doesn’t take a little work, but it’s very easy and how often does anyone switch phones?

    The attached pics are one of the history in the market, and the other is settings->security menu on Android phones that backs up your stuff. If you want to make sure it’s up to date un-check it then recheck it so it sync’s. I have not had that issue yet but for some it may not have full backup.