Amazon Appstore for Android opens, but Apple trademark fight looms

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As expected, online retailer Amazon.com formally launched its Amazon Appstore for Android today, offering consumers a new channel to download applications optimized for Android smartphones and tablets. Opening for business with about 3,800 applications in all, Amazon Appstore for Android--which will be accessible at Amazon.com/appstore and via mobile app client--promises a user experience rooted in the company's e-commerce and marketing expertise: "We spent years building shopping features that help customers find the products that are relevant to them from amidst a massive selection, and we're excited to apply those capabilities to the apps market," Appstore Category Leader Aaron Rubenson told The New York Times.

Applications available in the Amazon Appstore for Android will operate on all devices running Android 1.6 and above; Amazon promises a series of automated marketing features extending its signature product recommendation engine to mobile software merchandising, as well as a Bestsellers section to further improve consumer discovery. In addition, Amazon will test all apps before introducing them in the store, guaranteeing a positive user experience and protecting consumers from malware and other potentially harmful situations.

The New York Times reports Amazon Appstore for Android will seek to draw consumers by offering a free application every day, beginning with the exclusive Angry Birds Rio. The storefront also will set the prices that apps sell for--developers may suggest a retail price, but Amazon could sell them at a different price, undercutting Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) rival Android Market. Developers will receive a 70 percent cut of the sale price, or 20 percent of the price they suggest the app sells for.

Amazon Appstore for Android arrives in the wake of news that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has filed suit to block Amazon.com from using its App Store trademark.

"Amazon has begun improperly using Apple's App Store mark in connection with Amazon's mobile software developer program," Apple said in the complaint, filed March 18 in California. "Amazon has unlawfully used the App Store mark to solicit software developers throughout the United States."

The filing adds that Amazon plans to use the trademark in connection with direct-to-consumer application retail efforts, and states that Apple has contacted Amazon three times to demand that it cease using the trademark, noting Amazon hasn't "provided a substantive response."

The Apple complaint accuses Amazon.com of trademark infringement and unfair competition and petitions for a court order to prevent the retailer from using the "App Store" brand. Apple also seeks unspecified damages.

"We've asked Amazon not to copy the App Store name because it will confuse and mislead customers," an Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg.

For more:
- read this New York Times article

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