Amazon launched its own Android app store Tuesday, an event immediately followed by the introduction of a lawsuit filed by Apple, according to Bloomberg.
The suit claims trademark infringement and unfair competition on usage of the term “app store.”
Amazon’s Appstore is launching with 3,800 apps and an exclusive free app-of-the-day. The first will be a version of the popular game “Angry Birds” based on the movie “Rio.”
Customers can shop in the Appstore from their computers and Android phones. Amazon debuted a feature called Test Drive, which lets users preview an app on a computer via a simulated Android phone. Amazon hopes to differentiate its market from other Android markets by providing higher-quality apps that it says are safer to use.
Regarding the lawsuit, this isn’t the first time the term “app store” has been the center of a legal argument. Earlier this year, Microsoft tried to block Apple’s attempt to trademark the term.
“We have a long-standing practice of not commenting on pending litigation,” Mary Osako, Amazon spokesperson, told the E-Commerce Times. Apple did not respond to an E-Commerce Times’ request for comments by press time.
The App Store Wars Heat Up
“This is an indication that the app store wars are getting more heated,” Azita Arvani, principal of Arvani Group, told the E-Commerce Times. “Apple has historically been very diligent on protecting their intellectual property and trademarks. They have applied for App Store trademark but it has not been granted.”
Amazon has worked to build a good relationship with its customers and expects to translate that goodwill into app sales.
“Android, by design, is a more open system,” said Arvani. “So it is expected to see more activity on the Android app store front. Each app store has to differentiate themselves in some way. Amazon will use its current customer base and billing relationship as it’s competitive edge.”
The open quality of Google’s Android operating system allows for more companies to get involved with development and sales of its apps.
“With success of app stores, it is inevitable to see more players entering the market,” said Arvani. “Unless they put restrictions around app stores, more app stores should give developers more channels for distribution, and more app purchasing options for consumers.”
Apple Wants to Keep ‘App Store’ to Itself
It’s not clear whether Apple has the muscle to force Amazon to change the name. “The Android store is just another piece of Android’s overall e-commerce offering,” Carl Howe, director of anywhere consumer research, Yankee Group, told the E-Commerce Times.
“I don’t think Apple will be able to stop that. The only thing they’re looking for is to not use the term ‘App Store.’ They want it named something different,” he said.
Amazon Appstore Has Potential
If the Appstore gains traction, Amazon could offer apps for more platforms.
“It’s good to have, within reason, other places to buy apps,” Al Hilwa, program director of applications development software at IDC, told the E-Commerce Times. “It does make it a bit more complex for users, but if Amazon is able to build a critical mass for its app store and offer specific advantages for developers or other platforms potentially, then there is an opportunity for other players and not just platform owners. But I think the platform’s main app store will be the primary way for most users to get the apps.”
As for the lawsuit, the term, “app store,” could well be considered a generic term and not something copyrightable.
“The fewer generic words we have that are protected by trademarks, the better, so we don’t have to worry about infringing on trademarks as we speak,” said Hilwa. “I’ve always been amazed by the words that are trademarked.”