Amazon fires its first salvo at Apple in war of the phone apps

Amazon launched its "Appstore for Android" selling software and games for download to smartphones yesterday, defying a lawsuit from Apple which claims it infringes the trademark of its own three-year-old App Store

The legal spat between two of the giants of the technology industry reflects the fierce battle for territory in the fast-growing smartphone market – and the growing competition to Apple's pioneering iPhone. The Amazon Appstore sells apps that work on any of the different kinds of devices running Google's Android operating system. Apple's App Store sells downloads for iPhones, iPads and iPods only.

Amazon first drew up plans for an Android appstore last autumn and has been encouraging developers to create software and games for sale through the store. In order to attract customers on its first day, the company was yesterday offering free downloads of the latest version of the popular smartphone game Angry Birds.

And the online retailer boasted that its appstore will be easier to use than Apple's, since it will recommend apps for customers and allow a "test drive" before buying them. "We've spent years developing innovative features that help customers discover relevant products," Paul Ryder, vice-president of electronics for Amazon.com, said. "We're aiming to give customers a refreshing app shopping experience."

In a lawsuit filed earlier this week, before the Amazon launch, Apple demanded that Amazon be barred from using the name Appstore and that it pay unspecified damages. "Amazon has unlawfully used the App Store mark to solicit software developers throughout the United States," the suit claims, adding that it planned to use the name for marketing to consumers, too.

The US Patent and Trademark office granted Apple a trademark for the phrase App Store, the suit says, but Microsoft – which has its own smartphone operating system and its own online store for apps – is challenging that.

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