Amazon Android Appstore Briefly Opens Outside US

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International Android users succeeded in accessing the Amazon Appstore, but the loophole has now been closed

Android smartphone users from outside of the United States – including some in the UK – were reportedly able to download applications from the Amazon Android Appstore yesterday, despite Amazon keeping tight-lipped about an international roll-out.

According to The Digital Reader, the move to expand Amazon’s Appstore to other countries was first reported in Australia. Web users in the UK, Canada, South Africa, Venezuela, India, Finland, Ireland, Austria, Estonia, Romania, Poland, and more have also said they were able to access the store and purchase apps.

However, eWEEK Europe’s own attempts this morning were unsuccessful. While we were able to download the the Amazon Appstore application, any attempt to download apps from Amazon was met with the following message: “The Amazon Appstore for Android is not yet available in your region.”

Other reports on the web suggest that this is the case across the board, and that Amazon has closed whatever loophole was enabling users to download apps. The website still states that the Appstore is only available to customers located in the United States.

Amazon was contacted for comment but did not reply in time for the publication of this article.

No surprise

“As much as we may regret it, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise,” wrote The Digital Reader’s Nate Hoffelder in response to news of the shut-down. “The normal pattern for Amazon would be to announce a big and noisy public launch. At the very least there should have been a press release, not not just a quiet realization that the Appstore was open to the world.

“While I thought it might be an accident I also hoped that Amazon would let it continue. Making the Appstore available outside the U.S. would have been the obvious next move for Amazon,” he added.

Amazon opened its Appstore for Android in the US on 22 March, offering free and paid applications based on the open-source operating system, albeit with some features that differentiate it from Google’s competing Android Market.

While the Android Market lets users download free and paid applications, the Amazon Appstore allows users to test applications they are interested in on a simulated Android phone. Customers access the application simulation through their computer using a mouse. The company calls this feature Test Drive.

With Test Drive, consumers can decide if they like the application before downloading it. This is particularly important for paid applications so users do not spend money without being certain they are going to like what they purchase. Test Drive also helps consumers sift through the 3,800 applications in the Amazon Appstore.

Meanwhile, Amazon has partnered with Rovio Mobile to launch Angry Birds Rio for Android exclusively in its Appstore, allowing customers to download it for free for a limited time. The Appstore will also offer customers a paid application for free every day.

Customers can buy applications in the Appstore either through their computer’s web browser or through an Amazon Appstore application they may download to their Android phones or tablets.

‘Appstore’ injunction

Earlier this year, Apple was rebuffed in its efforts to secure an injunction preventing Amazon from using the term ‘Appstore’ to describe its digital downloads storefront.

Apple claimed to hold trademark rights over the term – even though its own digital storefront is called the ‘App Store’ (two words). However, a judge in California denied Apple an injunction because it had not established the likelihood of confusion between the two brands.

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