Up until now, selling an HTML5 based application was a challenge: Unless you were willing to package your code with a tool like PhoneGap and sell through the main stores (Apple, Google, Windows…), you basically had to either create enough of a following/SEO movement or rely on a series of third-party.
Amazon wants to change this and help sell more HTML5 apps.
Amazon’s Mobile App Distribution Program now allows HTML5 apps to be distributed not just on the Kindle Fire but also on most Android-based devices.
Of course Amazon wants to position itself as an end-to-end solution provider and is interested in the community leveraging some of Amazon’s technology into their HTML5 applications! Developers will have the option to tap into certain Amazon’s API such as in-app purchases and virtual currency. Another enhancement brought forth by Amazon is the release of a series of tools to debug HTML5 apps. The Web App Tester, which offers an environment to test applications, is quite simple to use and can be loaded on most Android devices and Fire tablets. I also recommend reading the best practices documents. These documents walk developers through the submission process and provide some very sound development suggestions, especially if you are planning on releasing a game.
Finally, Amazon claims it has optimized its Kindle Fire tablets so that HTML5 apps will run as smoothly as native apps. This is a ground-breaking claim so expect to see some really intriguing debates (and test data) in the coming weeks. Is this statement pure marketing hype or can the run-time environment be truly enhanced to the point of bringing HTML5 apps to the same performance level as native apps?
If, indeed, tablets can be tweaked so that there is no difference between native and html5 then we could see another flood of apps making their way to our devices soon as well as a potential leadership reshuffle in the hardware industry.
This topic should get quite heated and entertaining to follow!
Amazon is trying to move at the center of the eco-system. There was definitely a need for a centralized HTML5-store app, fueled by a major player, and it will be interesting to see how the competition reacts. By making this move, Amazon may also have to ramp up its tablet offering to have the same level of functionality as other hardware that run HTML5 apps (here).
As to the benefits of being on the store or even only using some of the development support tools, we are in the midst of testing the Web App Tester for one of our applications and will report on our findings.