Amazon expands Appstore for Android to China, trumps Google with paid apps

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Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is extending its Appstore for Android to China, becoming the first Western company to offer premium-priced Android applications to consumers in the world's largest smartphone market. Rival Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play's Chinese efforts remain limited to free Android apps.

Amazon Appstore for Android opened to U.S. consumers in March 2011. The store promises a user experience rooted in the company's e-commerce expertise, highlighted by a series of automated marketing features extending Amazon's signature product recommendation engine to mobile software merchandising and a Bestsellers section to further improve consumer discovery. Amazon has since expanded Appstore for Android to more than 200 international markets.

Amazon will compete against hundreds of local Chinese storefronts offering both free and paid Android apps--many apps are pirated, however, and malware presents significant challenges to device security. Amazon's software screening and merchandising processes will guarantee Chinese consumers and developers a safe, secure experience, with an emphasis on applications from homegrown firms including social networking site Sina Weibo and video-sharing hub Youku Tudou. An Amazon China spokesperson told Reuters the store is working with local developers to increase the number of available apps.

Amazon expanded its Kindle digital book platform to China in late 2012, but it has not yet begun selling its Kindle e-readers and tablets to consumers there. Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting, told IDG News Service that the Chinese market is showing some "pent-up demand" for Amazon hardware, adding that recent data indicates an increasing number of Chinese consumers are buying e-readers from overseas markets. Amazon China declined to comment on when or if it will sell Kindle products.

China boasts more than 330 million smartphone users, research firm iiMedia reported earlier this year. Android powers roughly 90 percent of those phones, Reuters notes.

For more:
- read this Reuters article
- read this IDG News Service article

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