Amazon's Kindle has morphed from an electronic device for reading to a formidable alternative to Apple's iPad, Google's Nexus and other tablets. Yet while Amazon has plenty of video and text content to offer Kindle users, its Appstore remains a little thin in games and other areas.
That's partly because Amazon's Fire operating system for Kindles is what's called a "forked" version of the Android OS; not all Google Play apps are available for it.
This week Amazon made a couple of announcements designed to attract more developer talent and hopefully increase their Appstore offerings.
On Monday, the company said it was partnering with GameSalad. The San Francisco-based startup makes tools that allow independent developers to build their own games without an extensive knowledge of coding.
Then on Tuesday, Amazon launched Appstore Developer Select, a program of incentives and tools. If developers optimize their apps for Amazon -- that is, make them high definition and full screen -- then the company will help them build and host their apps on Amazon Web Services, assist them in monetizing with in-app purchases and mobile ads, and distribute them via the Appstore.
That's marketing, money and discovery: three areas that are always the biggest challenges for development teams.
"The Amazon Appstore is available in nearly 200 countries and pre-loaded on select Verizon Wireless devices, giving developers an opportunity to get in front of a large swath of customers," said Steve Rabuchin, general manager of the Amazon Appstore. "As a result, we're giving customers better ways to experience and discover the apps they love."
Yankee Group analyst Carl Howe told KING 5 that Amazon already knows how to do digital content and more importantly, how to charge for it. "What they need is third parties," Howe said. "They're saying, 'Let's open up the tent and get more people (developers), and we make money on each admission.'"
When it comes to gaming apps, "Indie developers appreciate the heck out of Amazon Web Services," said Corey Dangel, co-founder and chief creative officer for Seattle's Detonator Games. "The ability to spin up servers on demand while you are prototyping is a huge benefit."
Dangel told KING 5 that Amazon has spent the past year hiring "really amazing artists...some of the most talented guys I know are now at Amazon working on super-secret cool stuff. I don’t know what they are working on, but it’s bound to be gorgeous."
When asked if those developers could end up working on devices such as Amazon set-top boxes, smartphones or a video game console, Rabuchin said the company doesn't comment on rumors or speculation.