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Amazon outlines Android bill of rights

Galloping away from Google Marketplace

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Amazon's foray into mobile applications is getting firmer, with the company's approach to copy protection showing how it plans to differentiate itself from Google's Marketplace, or not.

Amazon Appstore Digital Rights Management apparently "simplifies life for developers and customers", but only by virtue of operating on principles made familiar by Google's Licence Verification Library (LVL). But, just like Google, Amazon is hoping that mobile applications will tie customers into its cloud for the long term.

That's important as Amazon continues migrating away from its bookstore roots towards becoming a provider of cloud services, with the application store being an ideal way to punish those who stray from the one true path.

Amazon's DRM system, like LVL, requires applications to periodically ping the on-device store application to ensure the licence is still valid. The on-device store will, once in a while, check with the cloud store to ensure the licence is still valid, and presumably pick up notifications regarding updates and rogue applications - the former for re-downloading, the latter for deinstallation.

Applications purchased through the Amazon Android store, and protected by Amazon's DRM, will only operate as long as the store is installed. So if one buys a new phone one can install all the purchased applications onto it, as long as one installs the Amazon app store first. That means anyone who buys an application from Amazon is locked in for the duration - which is rather the point.

That's the same as Google's Android Marketplace, though as the 'Marketplace comes preinstalled on most Android handsets few users notice. When Google reached out and uninstalled rogue applications over the weekend the association was that Google could remove applications from "Android" when in fact it’s the Android Marketplace application, not the operating system, which does the dirty work.

Amazon's app store will presumably come with similar abilities, those details have yet to be announced, but the DRM details show how Amazon sees applications as a way of ensuring cloud loyalty. That is still dependent on whether developers decide to make use the app-store DRM (there are other DRM mechanisms available, and neither store mandates their own DRM). But the app-stores make their own DRM extremely easy to deploy, which makes sense as they have most to gain from its use. ®

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