Rakuten Launches Its Own Security-Enhanced Android App Store In Japan

Rakuten, Japan’s top online retail firm, has pulled an Amazon after it launched its own branded Android app store today.

The company is promising that ‘Rakuten App Ichiba’ will not only give customers a chance to gain loyal points from money spent on Android apps, but furthermore it’ll offer stronger security measures than Google’s own app store.

Rakuten App Ichiba was initially scheduled to open at the end of June, but after a delay the doors opened today. Rakuten said it has an initial 380 apps from 180 developers, including some exclusives. That’s an awful lot less than the Google Play Store — which has over one million — so the company will need to make good on its promise to beef up that selection if it is to appeal to Android device owners. The online retail giant offers its Super Points loyalty scheme across a range of services — it has ventured into banking and phone plans, as well as more standard areas of e-commerce — and that’s being extended to cover in-store and in-app payments within the app store.

Perhaps the most interesting part, however, is around security. Countless reports have found that Android accounts for the overwhelming bulk of malware on mobile — that’s something Apple CEO Tim Cook has emphasized in the past — but Rakuten has teamed up with security firm Trend Micro to try to combat that threat.

Trend Micro’s technology will assess all apps that are uploaded to Rakuten App Ichiba, while the store will also offer a feature that runs a security scan of a user’s phone each month. We haven’t seen many companies create their own app stores for some time, but other examples include Amazon, and popular internet portal Yahoo Japan. This is likely to be a Japan-only affair, since Rakuten’s business is strongest on its home turf.