TextPlus Publisher Explains Why Developers Love Amazon Appstore

Despite the recent improvements to Google’s Android Market, Amazon’s Appstore (s amzn) for Android (s goog) is still winning over developers who are increasingly drawn to its marketplace for apps. The latest is TextPlus messaging app publisher Gogii, who has the featured free app of the day on Amazon Tuesday with its premium TextPlus Gold app.
I talked with Gogii CEO Scott Lahman about Amazon’s Appstore’s appeal and why it shines as a showcase for apps. He said even with the fast growth of Android hardware sales, there’s a sizable difference in the number of apps downloaded on iOS (s aapl) over Android. He said Gogii is turning to Amazon to help narrow that gap, hoping its expertise in online retail will pay off:

“The improvements to Android Market are great, but this is what we’ve been saying: It’s not just search. Search is great when you know what you want. It’s about merchandising; it’s user recommendations and trials. It’s classic retail, and it’s what makes a successful buying process, and who knows this better than Amazon?”

Lahman said Gogii will actually make TextPlus Gold, as well as a unique TextPlus Free Text and Group Text app, exclusive to Amazon for a few weeks before making them available in the Android Market. He said Amazon isn’t paying for the exclusive, nor did they ask for one. Lahman said Gogii is more interested in seeing how Amazon Appstore performs. He’s been told by Amazon that the free app of the day slot is good for a few hundred thousand downloads. That’s pretty impressive for a store that has to be installed onto devices in a somewhat complicated manner.
Lahman can afford to experiment with Amazon because Gogii isn’t hurting for users. It has hit 17 million downloads with 8 million active users and it recently hit 54 million messages per day in an increasingly competitive group messaging field. But it feels like it can do better on Android, especially as it looks to make more money. Lahman said Amazon’s base of credit card accounts, thought to be second to only Apple’s(s aapl), is an important advantage in getting people to buy and also come back repeatedly. Amazon’s recommendation engine, one of the best in the business, is also a huge asset in surfacing quality content. And features like Test Drive, which allow users to try out an app on their computer, is a big win for developers, Lahman said.

“Amazon’s recommendation engine is proven and I love Test Drive,” Lahman said. “It’s what you need to get users past one download so people come back to the store.”

As we’ve reported, Android Market is making big strides with discovery, curation and check-out. But it has a very motivated rival now in Amazon, which is setting a high bar for Android app markets as a likely prelude to its own Android hardware devices. With more high-profile developers like PopCap and Gogii turning to Amazon with exclusives, it shows Google may need to do more than just keep up. It needs to take a lesson from Amazon and learn how to construct a well-oiled transaction machine that benefits makers of both free and paid apps. Until it does that, more developers are noting the opportunities Amazon offers.