Amazon is likely to unveil its first-ever smartphone on Wednesday. But before the media and Amazon's own customers arrive in Seattle for the big event, the company is spending today talking about apps. There are few metrics more important than app count and selection when grading a phone's ecosystem, and Amazon wants the world to know that it's faring well on both points. The Amazon Appstore, which houses apps compatible with Kindle Fire hardware and most Android devices, has "nearly tripled in the past year," the company announced today. In all, over 240,000 apps and games are available, and Amazon says it's operating in "nearly" 200 countries. Presumably that's the same app market you'll see on the forthcoming smartphone, so it's no surprise that Amazon is trumpeting these figures before Jeff Bezos takes to the stage.
For comparison, Microsoft's Windows Phone Store crossed 200,000 apps back in December. That's easily Amazon's closest competition, since Android and iOS each hold an enormous lead over both companies. Consumers using either the App Store or Google Play can access over 1 million apps. That incredible success has led developers to prioritize their efforts around those platforms, sometimes leaving Windows Phone and Amazon's Appstore as an afterthought.
Steady growth, but plenty of popular apps are still missing
In terms of app quality, Amazon is managing to get by. Its own services handle the bulk of consumer media needs: there's Instant Video for movies and TV, Cloud Drive Photos for storing and sharing your photos, and now Prime Music for streaming a million songs. All the usual suspects are on the Appstore: Netflix, Hulu Plus, IMDB, Spotify, and so on. But there are still very obvious pain points in Amazon's catalog — particularly in the area of productivity software, as we noted in our review of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. It also remains to be seen if Amazon will have essential apps like Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger ready for its phone; none of them currently exist for Kindle tablets. We'll have a much better sense of Amazon's app offerings — and the phone, obviously — come Wednesday's event, so you'll want to keep it locked for all the news.