new store

While exclusively for Android apps, Amazon's Appstore is more akin to Apple's App Store than Google's Android Market in terms of philosophy. Unlike the Android Market, apps sold via Amazon will have to be screened and approved before they hit the Appstore. Amazon's requirements for approval are similar to Apple's, but the company claims it won't be as dictatorial as Cupertino. To get onto the Appstore, your app has to do what it says it does, not crash, and be free of potentially malicious code. By taking the middle ground between Android Market's free-for-all and the App Store's authoritarianism, Amazon hopes to offer consumers the best of both worlds.

Another key distinction of the Amazon Appstore is that Amazon will be setting the price for apps. This is a first for the app world, as both Apple and Google have always allowed developers to set their own prices. Amazon will accept recommendations on price, but reserves the right to make the final call, banking on its not inconsiderable retail savvy to help drive sales of the apps. Developers will get either 70% of the actual price or 20% of their suggested price, whichever is higher.

Things aren't all sunny for Amazon on launch day, however. The company just got slapped with a lawsuit from Apple claiming that its new "Appstore" is too similar to Apple's own "App Store" in name if nothing else. Apple has been seeking a trademark on the term "App Store" since 2008. Other app retailers like Google, RIM and HP/Palm have avoided using the term for their own app outlets, and if Apple has its way, Amazon will be forced to back off the "store" as well.

This isn't the first expansion into a nascent market by the retail giant this year. A suddenly adventurous Amazon started offering subscription video streaming exactly one month ago, and is rumored to be planning an Android Kindle for competing with tablets.

As a special incentive, Amazon will be offering a "free app of the day" everyday, picking one ordinarily paid app to be made free to download. Today it's Angry Birds Rio, a special edition of the popular game available exclusively on Amazon's Appstore.