Amazon vs B&N Heats Up In Europe: Android Appstore Goes Live In UK, Germany, France, Italy & Spain; B&N Adds More Nook Retailers

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Competition between Amazon and Barnes & Noble is heating up fast in Europe. In what might be the closest sign yet we’ve seen to Amazon preparing to launch the Kindle Fire tablet outside of the U.S., Amazon today announced that it is finally launching its Android apps Appstore in Europe. The first markets to come online will be the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, the company noted today in an announcement. But that is not all the news we heard today.

The news comes in the same day that its U.S. rival Barnes & Noble announced three more partners for its UK retail push: electronics and home goods seller Argos, and bookshops Blackwells and Foyle’s.

The news follows the announcement of B&N’s first retail partner for its own push outside of the U.S. — it will be partnering with John Lewis in the UK. As with the B&N deal with John Lewis, the first products to get distribution will be the company’s Nook e-readers, not its Nook tablet, which like the Kindle Fire is built on a forked version of Google’s Android OS.

Amazon itself has signed a deal with the UK bookseller Waterstones to distribute its Kindle products both in stores and online.

In Germany, France and Italy, the Android marketplace will be called “App-Shop” available today. In Spain,  it will be branded “Tienda Apps;” and the UK will follow the same conventions as the U.S. with the name “Amazon Appstore for Android.”

The store is the culmination of a series of developments that has seen Amazon moving closer to offering its apps (and possibly devices to use those apps) outside of the U.S.

In addition to the deal with Waterstones, Amazon in June opened an international Appstore portal for developers from the UK, Germany, France and Spain to begin submitting apps to the store. From there, it was only a matter of time before the official launch of the actual Appstore today.

As with the Appstore in Europe, the marketplace is focused on Android apps that users can download or purchase for their Android handsets and tablets. The Kindle Fire tablet, built on a forked Android OS, uses the Appstore as its main app distribution point, too — making this possibly one more signal that Amazon is inching closer to this also hitting markets on this side of the pond.

Amazon says that it will be offering localized versions of the store for each market, and as with the U.S. it will promote a free app daily for download. The first is the same brand that Amazon promoted when it first launched its app store in the U.S. last year: it’s the ad-free version of Angry Birds (for those that don’t already have it).

Other features that are getting carried over are personalized recommendations, Customer Reviews and 1-Click payments.  As with the Appstore in the U.S., apps will also feature in-app purchasing and subscriptions.

Full details of Amazon’s news below.

Amazon Appstore Launches in Europe; Now Available in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain
Amazon Appstore rollout across the EU is the latest in a series of additions that make Amazon the most complete end-to-end platform for developers looking to build, market and monetize their apps and games

SEATTLE & LUXEMBOURG–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aug. 30, 2012– (NASDAQ: AMZN) – Amazon.com, Inc. today announced the launch of its Amazon Appstore in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain, giving European customers access to Amazon’s broad selection of quality Android apps with the convenience of shopping on Amazon from their Android phones and tablets. Customers can get the Amazon Appstore for their Android phones and tablets by visiting http://www.amazon.com/getappstore.

Amazon’s Appstore offers a great selection of games and apps, including local favorites like “Jamie Oliver’s 20 Minute Meals” and “Skyscanner,” established bestsellers like “Fruit Ninja” and “Cut the Rope,” and new apps from top-tier brands like Rovio and Glu Mobile. In addition to localized content and a localized mobile store for each specific country, European customers will have access to popular Amazon Appstore features like the “Free App of the Day,” which offers a paid app for free every day. Today’s Free App of the Day is the ad-free version of “Angry Birds.” All Free Apps of the Day are specially-selected for the Free App of the Day program. Apps and games purchased from Amazon can be used across a customer’s Android devices, enabling them to buy an app or game once and enjoy it everywhere.

The Amazon Appstore also includes popular Amazon features like personalized recommendations, Customer Reviews and 1-Click payments. In order to ensure that customers have the best possible experience with the apps they purchase, apps are Amazon-tested and backed by Amazon’s world-class customer support.

“Customers in the U.S. have purchased millions of apps, games, in-app items and subscriptions since the store launched last year, and we’ve received great feedback about discovery features like Free App of the Day. We evaluate and test games and apps before making them available in the Appstore so we ensure customers have a great experience with the games and apps they purchase,” said Jim Adkins, Vice President of Amazon Appstore. “Amazon has spent years developing innovative features that help customers find and discover the products that are right for them and have applied that know-how to the Amazon Appstore. We’re delighted to extend that experience to our European customers.”

Amazon continues to roll out services and features that make it the most complete end-to-end solution for developers wanting to build, market and monetize their apps and games. Developers can build their apps and games using Amazon Web Service’s industry-leading infrastructure platform. For important audience engagement features like Leaderboards, Achievements and Syncing game state between devices, developers can use Amazon’s new GameCircle services. To gain exposure to tens of millions of customers, developers can list their apps in the Amazon Appstore and take advantage of awareness-building programs like Free App of the Day. And, to monetize their apps and games, developers can use Amazon’s industry-leading e-commerce and payment capabilities like In-App Purchasing and Subscriptions.

“Amazon’s Free App of the Day program is really unique,” said Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio Mighty Eagle and CMO. “Over the past year we have offered Amazon customers some of our best-selling premium games like “Angry Birds Rio” and “Angry Birds Seasons” for free, and the response has been truly overwhelming. We are pleased to offer Amazon customers another one of our most popular premium titles, “Angry Birds,” for free today.”

“Amazon customers are very important to us, and “Cut the Rope” and “Cut the Rope: Experiments” have been in the top of the charts on Amazon Appstore in the U.S. We are focused on delivering great gaming experiences to our users all over the world, and are looking forward to reaching more “Cut the Rope” fans as Amazon launches its store in Europe,” said Misha Lyalin, CEO, ZeptoLab.

“At Glu we’ve always been an early adopter of Amazon services for both building and selling our mobile games. For example, “Frontline Commando” was one of the first games on the Amazon Appstore to offer IAP and subscriptions. This game also leverages Amazon’s S3 and Sync services,” said Niccolo de Masi, Chief Executive Officer of Glu Mobile. “Amazon offers us exposure to its large customer base and we will continue to use the Amazon platform in our efforts to grow our business.”

“We are big fans of Amazon Appstore and have seen tremendous growth in our business since we started releasing our apps on the Amazon platform,” said Suli Ali, CEO of TinyCo. “We have been extremely successful with Amazon’s In-App Purchasing. It was easy to implement, and we have generated significantly more revenue per customer than with any other platform. Since we have had such success with Amazon, when GameCircle was introduced, it was a no-brainer, we added it to our apps right away.”

In Germany, France and Italy, customers will find “App-Shop” available today; in Spain, customers will find “Tienda Apps;” and U.K. customers will find the “Amazon Appstore for Android.”