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Amazon playing with (Kindle) Fire: What it means for developers

The Kindle Fire is garnering much attention and sales in the US. It deserves it. Amazon knows that they are likely onto a winner with consumers for the seven inch media device. They are so confident in the amount of sales they will make through content, they are selling it at a loss. But what of the device itself, will it really be the saviour of Android tablets?

With 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books available, content certainly won’t be an issue. This is where the Fire will shine. From an apps perspective, while Amazon has been building up its controlled store for some time now, it doesn’t have the breadth of content as Marketplace and there are some key areas which could prevent developers from targeting the platform.

To start with, it clearly states on the specification list for the Kindle Fire that all apps will be tested by Amazon, leading us to conclude that this tablet will only support the Amazon app store, and not the Android Marketplace. This has a number of implications for Android developers if apps are to appear in both places.

An increase in developer effort, time and ultimately money for the submission process due to Amazon’s approval process (which many developers will not be familiar with and has been the recipient of backlash on its practices)

Sticky situation. Currently, if developers do get their apps onto the store, they can’t remove them. Developers will need to ask permission, via an email, to Amazon. This is an issue, sometimes developers need to pull their apps for a number of reasons

Missing features. It isn’t known whether many of the APIs and processes Android developers currently take for granted will be available to developers. As the device doesn’t use a Google account it is highly likely that tools such as Google’s free push notifications will be enabled

It’s more testing. An increase in workload for developing apps due to extensive testing across the new device on this heavily modified platform

With Ice Cream Sandwich just around the corner, Android developers are soon going to have to take into consideration Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and Amazon-Android.