Amazon launched its Android app store in China over the weekend, becoming the first Western technology company to offer paid-for Android apps in China. (Google’s Chinese store offers only free apps.) The update effectively launches a new version of Amazon's app store built in Chinese in the form of an Android app, along with a Chinese-language site for developers.
It’s a promising alternative to Google Play for Chinese developers like Tencent and Sina. TechCrunch notes that Amazon's app store provides easier access for developers, who previously had to sell through third-party stores, a global customer base and an "attractive revenue sharing model."
Currently, there are home-grown services that offer paid apps to the Chinese market, the worlds largest in mobile, but many local versions are pirated or have malicious software issues. The Amazon store promises "quality and safety testing" and may very well be the prelude to the launch of its Kindle e-readers in China.
The Chinese market is showing "pent-up demand" for Amazon's e-reader, Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting told PC World. With Apple focused on the higher-end market, Amazon's Kindle, with a starting price of $159, could have broad appeal.
Amazon is clearly digging deeper into the lucrative Chinese tech market across several sectors, including e-commerce and the mobile phone market. Amazon’s rival, Apple, has deep tendrils in China and is currently Apple's second-largest market with 17,000 plus outlets selling its products. However, their reputation took a hit recently, causing CEO Tim Cook to respond to Chinese customers outraged over repair policies, deemed "misunderstandings" by the brand. "We are aware that a lack of communications... led to the perception Apple's attitude was arrogant and that we do not care and attach importance to consumer feedback," Cook wrote.
Overall, Amazon is still a small player in China's e-commerce market and faces increased competition from local brands such as Alibaba Group's Taobao and 360buy—both of which sell e-books, but the weekend launch strongly suggests its status there is about to change.