For any of the 50 million app downloaders who've racked their brains or thwapped their thumbs on an iPad or iPhone touch screen full of digital jewels, PopCap Games—or at least its runaway hit, Bejeweled—will ring a bell. The company recently expanded its operations into social gaming with the acquisition of ZipZapGames. Now it's signed a deal with Amazon to make its first two Android-compatible games in the U.S. market exclusively available through the Amazon Appstore—not the official Google app market or any other Android app clearing house.
Chuzzle will arrive in the appstore for a two-week period exclusivity starting May 17th, and Plants vs. Zombies will be joining it later this month. In an extra boost for PopCap, and one that'll swing a bright spotlight onto Amazon's Android code house, the games will be free for the first day of their availability—then $2.99 after that. In its press release, PopCap mentions its senior director of global product Giordano Contestabile's remarks on using Amazon: "We'll significantly extend the reach of our top franchises to legions of new mobile customers," and Amazon's category leader Aaron Rubenson is noted as saying "PopCap is a brand synonymous with great mobile apps."
But there's a far more interesting story here: Amazon is really trying to make its Android app store the one major go-to location for apps on Google's smartphone platform, with its curated approach that's highly reminiscent of Apple's stance on its own path-breaking App Store. In fact, Apple defends against alternative marketplaces popping up for its iOS devices, whereas Google does not—which has opened up the space for Amazon, which neither designs Android code nor sells an Android phone or tablet.
And there you get to the crux of it all. By signing up companies like PopCap with such clever deals, Amazon is building up the powers of its Android appstore and, sure, earning some income. But it could be really all about building a footprint for its rumored up-coming tablet.
[Image: Flickr user ianlamont]