Android Market loses hold over AT&T

Caroline Gabriel/Rethink Wireless
06 Apr 2011

Amazon's efforts to be the main media platform for Android are coming thick and fast now. Having beaten Google to a cloud music service, it has now persuaded AT&T to drop its bar on non-Google Android app stores.

Google will be eying Amazon's Android store and cloud activities with deep suspicion, as they may damage its own ambitions to dominate advertising and content. Now AT&T will support the alternative shopfront, just as Verizon Wireless is doing with its own multi-OS VCast store.

Unlike Apple, Google has failed to make Android Market the default option for cellcos, and many of them have created their own-branded versions. But AT&T had been a loyal ally, even though it has broken free of the Google experience in other respects, such as supporting other search engines on some Android homescreens.

Now, Amazon will work with the carrier to make the new Android AppStore available via an app for the AT&T HSPA network. “AT&T plans to offer the Amazon application store for Android smartphones, and we're working to give our Android customers access to third party application stores,” the operator said in a statement, as quoted by All Things Digital. “This requires updates to our systems and finalizing arrangements with Amazon.”

AT&T currently blocks its Android handsets, such as the Motorola Backflip and HTC Aria, from downloading applications from third party stores, beyond Google's Android Market and authorized partners like GetJar.

AT&T had previously justified that stance by saying the Market “forces developers to be accountable for the apps they submit. If the Android community has issues with an app, the app can be flagged and removed.”

However, many think Amazon's processes of clearing and checking apps will be more rigorous than Google's.

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