November 15, 2011, 12:47 PM

Two e-retailing powerhouses make Android moves

Amazon with a price comparison smartphone app and Netflix with a tablet app.

Lead Photo

Shoppers can enter search terms into the Price Check app by scanning a bar code, snapping a picture, or speaking or typing.

Even though Android has greater market share among smartphones, the vast majority of e-retailers building apps start with the iPhone. That’s in part because Apple Inc. is viewed as the leader in mobile innovation, and also because the iPhone is the single most popular smartphone—all of Apple’s market share belongs to one device while Android’s share is scattered among many devices. On the tablet side, there simply is no arguing with the numbers—Apple’s iPad is king.

But merchants are catching up with Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system, and today two e-retailing giants released apps for Android devices: Inc. debuted Price Check by Amazon for Android smartphones and Netflix Inc. introduced a redesigned version of its streaming video app for Android tablets, including the new Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble Inc. Nook Tablet.

Price Check by Amazon is an app that provides shoppers a quick and simple way to compare prices in stores. Shoppers can use the app to scan a bar code, snap a picture, or say or type a product name to receive a list of search results that show the product and similar products offered by Amazon. A shopper can touch a product onscreen to see detailed information and complete a purchase. Shoppers with Amazon accounts that have linked the account to the app can check out in a single click; the app uses preferred billing and shipping information from the account.

“Consumers want a fast and convenient way to determine the best possible price available for a product,” says Sam Hall, director of Amazon Mobile. “Since Amazon is widely known for its vast selection and low prices, Price Check for iPhone quickly became one of our most popular apps following its release last November, which is why we’re excited to expand the app to the growing number of Amazon customers using Android phones.”

Netflix timed the release of the new version of its Android app to coincide with the publicity surrounding the first shipments of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. The tablet app, which can run on any Android tablet, enables customers to browse and watch TV shows and movies streaming from Netflix.

The redesigned Netflix tablet app immerses consumers in movie titles while browsing, displaying twice as many titles than the previous interface. In addition, through optimization for touch-enabled tablets, Netflix members can swipe through multiple rows of titles with larger artwork. As a result, it is now much easier to discover and instantly watch movies and TV shows on Android tablets, the company says.

In the last 12 months we have seen a threefold increase in how long Netflix members are watching on their tablets,” says Neil Hunt, chief product officer at Netflix. “We’re happy to debut a new user experience coinciding with the release of the next generation of devices from industry leaders. The new Netflix interface offers a significant improvement in browsing and searching for TV shows and movies to instantly watch.

Netflix will release a new version of the tablet app for the iPad in a few weeks.

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