Is the Amazon Appstore Lowering the Bar for Android Tablets?
Anyone who follows CES can attest to the astonishing number of Android tablets that have debuted over the past two years. Many of those devices came from unknown Asian manufacturers without any brand recognition in the Android or mobile computing space. While these tablets run Google's OS—and can even have the Google Apps suite and access to the Android Market provided they meet certain standards—lesser-known tablet manufacturers now have a back-door route to avoid the process of vetting by Google, the Amazon Appstore.
Without access to the Android Market, it would seem like tablet manufacturers would have trouble selling an Android device. That's where Amazon comes in. The Amazon Appstore is fluid, good-looking, and comprehensive. It's also made by a company with a great name and a foundation in digital downloads. However, we've noticed that companies such as Viewsonic have used the Amazon Appstore to bypass the Android Market and push their tablets out to market.
While Viewsonic does make good-quality hardware, it's just one of many manufacturers taking this shortcut. With the Amazon Appstore in tow, anyone who wants to rush a low-quality Android tablet to market can do so and still have access to thousands of apps. This doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be a quality tablet.
Google's vetting of equipment manufacturers allows for a certain amount of quality control. When a manufacturer doesn't meet the company's guidelines—or doesn't even submit its device to Google—you end up with slower devices that have less-responsive displays and a poor user experience.
Many of the MIDs first seen at CES 2010 and again at CES 2011 are devices that haven't met Google's guidelines. One such tablet, from Augen GenTouch, went on sale at K-Mart last summer. Probably hoping to amp up the appeal of their lackluster tablet, the folks at Augen went ahead and used the Google Apps suite and Android Market without getting Google's permission. Soon after, the Augen tablet was pulled off the shelves at K-Mart.
Because Android is open source, anyone who can code can use it. Still, when tablet manufacturers don't get Google approval, users suffer from the lack of Google apps and access to the Android Market. The Amazon Appstore may now provide another option for getting content on non-Google-approved devices, but this only makes it easier to bring a half-baked product to market.
Thedroidguy is a regular guest contributor to Laptopmag. He boasts the largest independent Android following on Twitter, and he is one of the top three Android influencers in the world on Twitter. You can follow him @thedroidguy or visit him at www.thedroidguy.com. Views expressed by Thedroidguy are his own.