As you may or may not know, I am an Android geek of magnanimous proportions. I would go so far as to call myself an unabashed fanboy.
This is somewhat ironic given that I HATED Google before the development of Android.
What can I tell you, they won me over.
Competition, the Linux core, the developer program, Google’s Android Market, programming freedom, Java (which I have finally warmed up to somewhat), the fact that it’s not an infantalized walled-garden … the Android platform is just my thing. Perhaps the only thing tech to excite me in some time. My entire family has Android devices, and we are getting more this year (both phones and tablets).
Therefore, today was a big day for me.
A new app store, of course. Not only that, but a free release of Angry Birds Rio as gravy.
Now, even though they are a local company, frankly, I have never been a huge fan of Amazon. The reasons for this are lengthy, so I won’t go into them right now.
Nevertheless, when I heard they launched a new “Amazon App Store” today, I just had to give it a try. After all, a second app store? How? Why? I was fascinated.
So, how did it go?
Heh, did you read the title?
First of all, the Amazon Store app was a pain to install. It was not available through the real Android App Store. Instead, I had to scan a QR code, download the .apk, allow it to install “Unknown Sources” (I already did this since I write apps, but I would not recommend typical owners to do the same), then create an Amazon account on my desktop computer.
The Amazon account wanted my name, address, phone number, shoe size, etc. I faked all of those fields as usual (Harry Balsagna anyone?), and then it was time to launch the app on my EVO.
For whatever reason, I had to re-enter all of the login information on my phone, not once, but twice.
I don’t know, but I felt like I was applying for a loan or being interrogated while trying to set the whole thing up.
Finally, after who knows how many minutes getting it all running, I was ready to download the free Angry Birds Rio app.
Sweet! This was going to be fun!
I hit “download this app” at which point I was immediately prompted for a credit card number.
The Android Market doesn’t require a credit card for free apps. I made sure I trusted and liked Google’s offering before throwing my digits their way.
Yikes. This cannot be good.
I contemplated my options for about thirty seconds, and then I very, very quickly uninstalled the Amazon Store, and I am still checking things out closely to make sure it did not harm my phone. No offense, but the Amazon App Store feels like every spyware / malware app I ever installed. I have a strong suspicion something has been modified, and I bet I’m right.
After reading around to see if others had similar experiences, I learned that I am far from alone in dumping the app at the credit card screen.
It’s an ominous thing for those of us used to the try-before-you-trust mentality.
In addition, it appears that EVERYONE who is not a U.S. citizen (the majority of the world) could not download the free Angry Birds Rio app due to geographic restrictions, but Amazon only informed them of this AFTER they entered their credit card information.
This shows blatant bad faith and will further foment distrust in Amazon among those of us who already don’t particularly trust them.
But wait, there’s more.
AT&T users are also barred from the store, and those who have tried to uninstall the Amazon App Store have found their downloaded apps completely disabled and un-runnable.
I really dodged a bullet on that one. It looks like my spidey senses were right on.
Honestly, this whole thing was such a mega fail on so many levels. It’s hard to believe that a multi-billion dollar company can screw the pooch in such a spectacular fashion, but this is exactly what has happened.
Shame on Rovio for lending their app to this nonsense and shame on Amazon for a really bizarre, greedy, and untrustworthy effort.
You only get one chance to make a first impression.
I’m going to stick with the real (read: Google) Android App Store for the foreseeable future. Unless you are already an Amazon customer (and you trust that they won’t mangle your phone), you may want to do the same.