Amazon Appstore debut still lacks free test feature

By Dow Jones Newswires-Wall Street Journal
Posted March 23 at 1:17 p.m.

A key feature of’s Appstore for Android was unavailable Wednesday, a day after the e-commerce giant launched its store to much fanfare. But other parts of Amazon’s venture were more successful, and early tests underscored the positives and negatives of the retailer’s approach.

When Amazon opened its Appstore Tuesday, it touted its new “Test Drive” tool as an “innovative new feature” that would let customers to test apps their computer screen before buying or downloading them to their smart phones. But the tool wasn’t available for many by Wednesday, though some customers reported that it had been up earlier. In comments on blogs and message boards, Amazon users said they thought Test Drive was a “pretty impressive” idea but that they weren’t able to use it yet.

Overall, the online response to Amazon’s store was positive, though.

Among the store’s big selling points: the free app of the day — a premium application that Amazon selects each day and makes free. On Day 1, Amazon had “Angry Birds Rio, ” an exclusive installment of the popular game in which players fling disgruntled avians at evildoers.

By Tuesday, more than 1,000 people had reviewed the “Angry Birds Rio” app, likely just a fraction of the number who downloaded it.

Amazon’s store also had lower prices on a few other popular apps: “Fruit Ninja” was 99 cents, as compared with $1.20 in the Android Market and “Farm Frenzy” was $1.99 rather than $3.24. It’s unclear whether the lower prices were set by the app makers or Amazon, which can adjust final pricing as long as it continues to pay the app maker the higher amount

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