The Customer Comes First
What it’s lacking in selection or exclusive content, the Amazon App Store makes up for it by showing its customers a little more love than Google Play does. For instance, one thing that the Amazon’s store has going for it is that it offers a different paid app (usually a game, but not always) for free every day. That’s a great deal, even if the free paid app of the day is hit or miss at times. But that’s to be expected; it’s not like every paid app out there is perfect or interesting to every user. As long as you get at least one or two free paid apps out of the deal, it’s safe to say that you’ve benefitted from this excellent feature of the Amazon App Store.
For the truly dedicated gamer, Amazon has its own Xbox LIVE-esque service, called GameCircle, which tracks achievements and high scores, the latter of which can be posted to leaderboards. Only a handful of the games in the Amazon App Store are GameCircle enabled, but it’s still a nice feature for those who are addicted to achievements or like the old school arcade factor of duking it out with other players for the highest score.
An equally customer-friendly aspect of the Amazon App Store is its Test Drive feature, which allows customers to try out some of its apps for free in their web browser. Sure, some aspects are lost, including experiencing how well virtual controls, gestures, or accelerometer-based controls work, but it’s still a good way for users to check out apps and get the gist of them to make sure they’re not a waste of their hard-earned money.
Most of the bigger names are lacking the Test Drive feature, but that makes sense as their reputation and quality have already been established. If you’re looking for something more obscure, however, you may be in luck. As of this writing, Amazon has over 20,000 apps that are Test Drive enabled, so there’s a decent chance that the one you’re looking for is available for a spin before you buy it. If not, at least there are plenty for you to choose from at random to try out; who knows, you just might end up finding an app that you love.
Google does something similar with its magazines, letting customers enjoy 30- or 14-day trials when subscribing to magazines, allowing them to cancel during the trial period at no charge if they don’t like it. And Google Music has a similar feature in which users can share a free one-time listen of a song that they purchased with any of their friends, and vice versa.
Likewise, Google also allows for app returns, giving users a 15 minute window after buying an app in which they can return it for a refund if they are not satisfied with it. This is a service that Amazon is lacking, but hopefully the need for it is somewhat mitigated by the Test Drive feature on many of the apps. Also, while the Amazon App Store technically has a “no refunds” policy in place, representatives from Amazon have gone on record in interviews saying that if a customer is seeking a full refund on an app, they should just contact customer service, which will usually refund their money on a case-by-case basis.
For the most part, it’s a close enough race between Amazon and Google’s content surfaces to call it a tie; chances are good that if a user committed to either one, he or she would be perfectly content. However, there is one catch: the Amazon App Store can be used on any device, whereas Google Play cannot. So why not go with both, by getting a Nexus 7 or any other tablet that has been approved for access to Google Play, and just install the Amazon App Store on it as well?
As far as apps go, you won’t be missing out on anything, since Google Play is actually the one that has a few apps that the competition does not. And you would still have access to books, magazines, and music through Amazon. Really, the only thing you would be missing out on is Amazon’s Instant Video service, the main benefit of which — streaming video — is available only to Amazon Prime customers. Besides, even most of that content can be found on Netflix anyway.
The content around which Amazon built the Kindle Fire is not bad at all, and most users would probably be fine with it. But if customers are looking to maximize the amount of apps, games, movies, music, books, and magazines they have access to, the ideal option would be to pick up a Google Play device and supplement it with Amazon’s content, getting the best of both worlds.
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