SHANGHAI Amazon.com Inc launched an Android application store that offers paid apps in China, beating Google Inc, as the online retailer seeks to increase the amount of digital content it offers in the world's largest mobile phone market.
Amazon, which opened its Kindle e-book store in China in December, launched its Android app store over the weekend for China users to download both free and paid apps, Amazon China spokesman Billy Huang said on Monday.
Google's official app store only offers free apps in China. Google China declined to comment for this story. Android is Google's open source mobile operating system.
Amazon's app store must compete with hundreds of local rivals offering paid and free apps, some of them pirated, and users often worry about malware when downloading from these sites.
Amazon is the first Western technology company to offer a platform for paid Android apps in China and Huang said the company was working with software developers to increase the number of apps on offer.
Amazon China cornered less than three percent of China's booming 169 billion yuan ($27 billion) business-to-consumer e-commerce market in the fourth quarter last year.
The launch of the app store and the Kindle e-book store in China paves the way for Amazon to offer a range of devices including the standard Kindle e-reader and the Kindle Fire.
Huang declined to comment on the Kindle's release date in China. ($1 = 6.1556 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Melanie Lee; editing by Miral Fahmy)