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The Amazon Android Appstore is Clearly Not What We Thought

03 August 20111 comment Android, inneractive, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Industry

Back in March, Amazon announced that it would be releasing its very own app store on the Android platform. The Amazon Appstore would be in direct competition with the Android Market, and Amazon came with some unique offerings that would give it a clear advantage over the Market. You can read about those here.

One of the features Amazon was going to offer was a featured spot for a day in which a premium app would be offered for free. This would give users the ability to grab paid apps for no money, and it would give the developer the 24 hour slot to build up the user base of the app.

Of course, the obvious question is, if the app is free, isn’t the developer losing money by lowering the price to free? Well, Amazon solved that too and said they would be offering a 20% rev share with the developer based on the original price. Sounds like a great deal. You offer the app for free, get thousands or hundreds of thousands of downloads, and make 20% of the price you were originally asking. A win win, right?

Well, yes, if Amazon stuck to the plan, it might have been a great solution. Too bad Shifty Jelly, a mobile developer who focuses primarily on iOS apps and recently ran an Android experiment, cleared things up about exactly how Amazon conducts its Android business. You can read their blog post here.

Basically, in a nutshell, Amazon contacted the developer to promote their app and feature it in the free app a day section… The email then went on to explain that the rev share with the developer is 0%. Nope, not a typo, Amazon would not be paying the developer a penny.

Of course Shifty Jelly asked for clarification and Amazon explained that not only would they promote the app , which they did, and got the developer over 100k downloads in a day (wow, right? Just wait…), they would also feature the app in the days after the free spot, and would be pushing the app in the same slot as they pushed apps like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. Here is what Amazon wrote:

“Thanks for your response. The Free App of the Day promotion is the most valuable and visible spot in the store. It hosted the launch of the likes of Angry Birds Rio, Plants v. Zombies and more. Amazon will not receive any sales rev share from the Free App of the Day; and in fact, with as the Free of the Day for one day, you will receive a subsequent Appstore main page placement for the following 14 days.

All these highly valuable placements are at no cost to you. We want to promote your app and in exchange of the placements, at the 0% rev share for one day only.”

Well, the developer agreed and the results astounded them. Like I said, over 100k downloads in that one day, from which they made a whopping 0 amount of revenue, and the following days, despite Amazon’s promises, brought downloads back to the regular numbers, a few downloads a day.

Here are the graphs and stats posted by the developer. Don’t be fooled by the $54k revenue, they never saw a cent of it.



OK, so clearly Amazon’s free app a day promotion is a complete failure from the developer’s perspective, but what about other areas? I mean the Android Market, even with the new update, is still somewhat of a mess so Amazon’s store should at least solve that, right? Wrong, very wrong!

The developer then proceeded to explain why he is pulling his app from the Amazon Appstore effective immediately. Here are the main points, some of them, truly unbelievable:

  • Lengthy review times of anywhere up to 2 weeks, causing the Market app to be more updated than the Amazon version.
  • Amazon gets to set the price of your app to whatever they want, without any input from you, or even the chance to reject their price. Wow!
  • Amazon re-writes your description, and in ours they even made up things like ‘add up to 100 podcasts’. No idea where on earth they got that number from. Are they kidding??
  • Amazon don’t provide error reports like Google do making it hard to fix errors.
  • They don’t yet support Google’s new multiple APK initiative.
  • Amazon pays far later than Google does, and to date we haven’t received any cheques from them, even though we are listed as being ‘payed’.
  • US Only
  • Much less real-time sales information than Google
  • Update: (and this one surprised us) you can’t remove apps from their store! You have to ask them for permission via an email. Every other store lets you remove apps from sale. OK, this is just scandalous…
  • Let’s not forget the ridiculous process of installing the appstore.
OK, people, I think you get the point… The Market might not be perfect, but Amazon clearly is not the solution… What is? GetJar has been pretty straight up and honest in the past, not to mention that the company has always demonstrated how it is on the side of the developer. We are big believers in that here at inneractive.

Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
In addition, to sign up with inneractive and start monetizing your free apps now, click here.

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  1. Keith Andrew August 4, 2011

    While Amazon Appstore clearly is a work in process and has faults aplenty, I have to say I have little sympathy for Shifty Jelly in this case.

    They knew the terms and conditions of the deal when Amazon approached them, and they chose to go ahead with it. As such, whatever the order report my say, they knew they'd receive no money for the app's downloads that's day. I'm not sure why they're suddenly shocked to find out Amazon had 'given 100,000 copies of their app away for free', given that was the whole point.

    Secondly, knowing their app was going to be free, they should have expected a dramatic leap in downloads and, as such, greater demand on their servers. By saying yes to Amazon, they took responsibility for these knew users and should have prepared accordingly.

    All in all, the studio shouldn't have agreed to the free promo. However, it's daft in my view to then complain about it after the event. Learn and move on.


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