Report: Amazon to give users access to paid apps for free with 'Unlocked' section of Appstore

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) plans to launch a new section of its Android-based Appstore that will let users access a range of paid apps and those that have in-app purchases free of charge, according to a TechCrunch report.

The report, citing a leaked internal presentation, said the new section of Amazon's application storefront, called "Unlocked" will be akin to Amazon Prime for apps.  Prime, which typically costs $99 annually, includes free two-day shipping from Amazon, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video, unlimited, ad-free streaming and downloading of over 1 million songs and hundreds of playlists, and more.

It's unclear when the new Unlocked section will launch, if it will cost anything to access the section, or how many aps will be included in it when it does. However, app developers highlighted in the presentation including Sega America and independent developer UsTwo, whose Monument Valley game is also labeled as an "Unlocked" app, the report said. Other apps highlighted in the presentation included OfficeSuite 8 + PDF Converter, which lets Android users read and edit documents from Microsoft Office, and Ultimate Guitar Tabs & Chords.

Amazon representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the report, the presentation makes clear that Amazon wants the Unlocked program to be clearly identifiable to users, the selected apps to be obvious to users, and the apps "conveyed as high value provided by Amazon."

Further, the report noted, the Unlocked section will get promoted prominently in Amazon's own flagship app. As TechCrunch notes, the new section is designed not just to increase app downloads from the Amazon app store, but also to increase downloads of the Amazon app, which users need in order to access the Unlocked apps.

Amazon could be using Unlocked to undercut Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Play store on price for paid apps and get more users and developers to use its own app ecosystem. The program could also be a way of just generating enthusiasm in the Amazon Appstore, since Amazon's Fire phone has not sold well (the company's Kindle Fire tablets also use the Appstore). The Appstore has around 400,000 apps, far fewer than the Play store's 1.2 million.

Last year, Google delisted Amazon's main mobile app from the Play store after Amazon quietly integrated a way to purchase apps not only through the Appstore, but from within its Android app. Users who want it directly from their devices have to download the app from a website and change their security settings to make sure it works.

For more:
- see this TechCrunch article
- see this Business Insider article

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