Amazon App Store Is Just What Android Needs

Amazon will be more discriminating about approving apps for its Android app store--hopefully weeding out malware

Rumor has it that tomorrow may be the day that Amazon launches its own proprietary Android app store. The increased exposure from an online retail juggernaut like Amazon will be nice, but--more importantly--the Amazon app store will fix what's broken with Google's official Android Market.

There has been ample speculation about why Amazon would choose to get into the Android app store business. The Amazon Payments system has broader adoption and availability than Google Checkout--providing more potential opportunities for purchasing apps. There are also some hints that Amazon may turn the Kindle into an Android-based tablet--expanding the functionality of its ebook device and providing Android tablets with a significant endorsement.

One of the most important ways that an Amazon app store helps the Android platform, though, is that Amazon will not be as open as Google. The Amazon app store will have an approval process for apps to gain access--straddling a line somewhere between the wild west environment of the Google Android Market, and the draconian control of the Apple App Store.

One of the traits that users love most about Android is that it is open source. The platform is seemingly designed with the specific intent of providing an iPhone-like smartphone experience without the limits and restrictions that Apple places on its iOS platform.

However, Google has learned the hard way that it's possible to be "too open". Google recently scrubbed more than 50 apps from the Android Market that were found to be compromised with the DroidDream Trojan. Following that purge, Lookout Mobile Security reported a new app threat capable of giving malware root access to Android devices was discovered in the Android Market.

Consider your home. You don't want to be the neighborhood curmudgeon yelling at kids to get off your lawn. You want to be, well...neighborly. But, if you simply leave your front door wide open, you can bet that morally-challenged neighbors will take advantage of your naiveté and liberate some of your possessions. The challenge is to be open enough to be inviting without being gullible enough to get taken advantage of.

That is the same issue the official Android Market faces now. It is so open that malware slips through undetected. Users who are victimized by apps purchased directly from the official Android Market will lose faith in Google and stop buying apps. That is bad for Google, bad for app developers, bad for users, and bad for the Android platform in general.

Android needs an app store that is more discriminating, and capable of filtering out malicious apps so users feel safe purchasing and installing them. The Amazon Android app store is just what Android needs.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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