It sure seems that way, according to Android Guys. They claim competing eBook apps such as Kobo and Aldiko don't appear in search results when using the Amazon Appstore on a Kindle Fire tablet. Additionally, eBook reader developer BlueFire claims that while his app is listed as Kindle Fire-compatible on the Amazon Appstore, it too fails to show up in search results on the device.

We've not heard of many apps mysteriously not showing up in the Fire's app list (presumably Amazon had lots of time to work on ensuring most apps on its store would be compatible) for a lack of compatibility, so if this does turn out to be true, we can probably assume that Amazon made a conscious decision to keep competitors' apps out of the hands of users.

However, let's not forget that the Kindle Fire does come app sideloading-ready, so you can get your alternative-eBook reader fix on that way. And that even Google keeps competing app stores (think of Amazon's book business like an app store) out of its own Market, which is why Amazon's Appstore has to be sideloaded onto your phone or tablet. As Amazon is the US's number one retailer of books, digital or otherwise, it only makes sense for them to keep competitors from cashing in on a device the company sells at a loss.

Amazon should probably speak up on this, regardless - if only for the sake of full disclosure. Their curated app store model, and their semi-walled-garden device do seem to suggest Amazon wants to keep a lot of control over the end-user experience on the Kindle Fire, so this doesn't come as a surprise to us. Especially considering that the device's entire profit model relies on users buying digital content from Amazon, and not someone else.

We wouldn't call it shady, per se, but it definitely does paint Amazon in a slightly more Apple-y light.

Android Guys

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Brian

    Sideloading is so easy that it probably doesn't matter. I've got the Nook e-reader on my Kindle Fire, no problem. All you have to do is find (or transfer from your phone) the APK file, and you're done.

    That doesn't work so well for some apps (e.g., the Google Market itself, and Google+), but it should work fine for e-readers.

  • http://antwerkz.com Justin Lee

    Also, try searching for opera in the app store using the Fire and then using a computer. It shows up on the website. Not on the fire.

    What's more, trying using Fire's web browser to load http://market.android.com and what the fun that ensues. Shady indeed. Seriously considering returning mine.

  • Ryan

    Why would an app market have "app market" apps in them. I do not see the author's reasoning that Google is restricting Amazon.

    Amazon has an MP3 app, that is in the market.

  • http://www.theandroidsite.com Ben Marvin

    Google restricts other app markets from the Android Market because they can't control the content within those markets. And they can't use the killswitch if users happen to come across malicious apps. This makes it harder for the novice user to get themselves into trouble.

  • Michael Kennedy

    Thanks for putting a fair spin on this. It'd be so easy to be anti-Amazon when writing this story but you did a good job avoid that.

  • http://tridentcase.com E.J.Su

    I noticed some WiFi file transfer apps are also mysteriously missing on Fire when it was available in its normal AppStore.

  • Edd

    Hmm can anyone check out Cool Reader for me? It's my favourite app.

  • Kevin

    I like things to be as open as possible, which is part of the reason that I dislike Apple's model. However, I don't have as much trouble with Amazon's approach. Why is that? Partially because I'm a fan of Amazon, but that's not the only reason.

    What we have to remember is that Amazon is primarily a content seller/provider which has created devices to tap into that content, so I believe they have the right to restrict the content available to what they offer. Apple, on the other hand, is primarily a hardware provider which happens to have added content as they have gone along, and in the process they have made it more difficult for other providers -- many of whom were there first -- to compete without playing Apple's ever-changing rules.

    For what it's worth, Amazon has left things more open than Apple usually does for the consumer to do what they want with the hardware. Yes, there are still some restrictions, but our ever-capable Android devs have already started finding ways around those restrictions.

    • Freak4Dell

      Agreed. I hate Apple's model, too, but don't have a problem with Amazon's. Apple spins their product as a universal solution to everything, whereas Amazon makes it clear that their product is intended to be an accessory to their services. This is not an all-purpose Android tablet...it just so happens that Amazon provides means for pretty much all the common purposes an average person uses a tablet for. So, it makes sense that they would keep out the competition. Plus, Amazon doesn't seem to be as draconian about it as Apple is. If the app is compatible and doesn't directly compete with them, they'll allow it. Apple rejects stuff that has no effect on their revenues and is perfectly compatible. Lastly, Amazon makes it easy to sideload apps if you really want them. Apple...not so much.