Ahead of the anticipated launch of a Kindle Fire smartphone, Amazon says its Appstore for Android is growing like gangbusters. On Monday, Amazon announced that over the past year the Appstore has tripled in size and now has more than 240,000 apps available for Android smartphone and tablet users in nearly 200 countries.
Originally rolled out in March 2011, Amazon's Appstore for Android was expected to be the prelude to a phone release — especially since the Appstore launched specifically with smartphones in mind.
More than three years later, however, Amazon still hasn't produced a phone. What happened instead is that the Appstore expanded to include tablet apps after Amazon introduced its Kindle Fire slates in the fall of 2011.
But our long wait for an Amazon "Kindle-Fire-Whatever" Phone may finally be over. The online retailer recently announced it would host a launch event for a new device on Wednesday, June 18.
The device in question is widely expected to be a smartphone with a 3D display. As with other Amazon devices, the rumored phone would also have deep integration with Amazon's online storefronts and cloud services.
Smaller selection, same great features
Over the past three years, Amazon has grown the Appstore to include all the bells and whistles expected of a mobile marketplace, such as push notifications, mobile advertising, game leader boards, and in-app purchases. Amazon also has the added attraction of offering a paid app for free every day.
With more than 240,000 apps, Amazon's curated catalog is pretty hefty — albeit a sliver of the more than a million apps in Apple's App Store and Google Play. Nevertheless, Amazon does have a respectable roster of titles.
Read: Amazon launches Prime Music, a free song streaming service for Prime subscribers
Many, but not all, of the top apps you see in Apple's App Store and Google Play are in Amazon's storefront. Mobile staples such as Facebook, Netflix, Skype, Twitter, and Waze, as well as games like Angry Birds Epic, Candy Crush, and Subway Surfers are on Amazon's virtual shelves.
But a few of the hotter apps — Clash of Clans, Instagram and Snapchat come to mind — are missing.
The Appstore may have something of a visibility problem with developers who look to Google Play and iTunes first, with the Appstore something of an afterthought.
Case in point: The World Cup is in full swing in Brazil. Yet the Appstore lacks critical apps for sports fans such as FIFA's official Android app and ESPN FC Soccer & World Cup. Soccer fans do, however, have access to EA's FIFA 14.
But if Amazon indeed releases a smartphone in the coming weeks, its visibility problem may somewhat clear up — especially if the device proves especially compelling. Be sure to tune in Wednesday; TechHive will be on the ground in Seattle to bring you the news about Amazon's smartphone (or whatever is announced) as it happens.
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