Q&A: the problems with Amazon's Appstore
By Nicole Kobie
Posted on 5 Aug 2011 at 15:46
More complaints about the Amazon Appstore for Android have come to light - with one developer saying it's simply not worth the trouble.
The retailer launched its Appstore in March, with many pundits happy to see Google get some competition on the app front.
However, in July Swedish developer BitHack pulled its Apparatus app, calling the Appstore a "disaster".
As a desperate developer, that seems like a deal you should take, even though it's against the original deal you signed up for and could possibly hurt you badly
This week, Australian developers Shifty Jelly echoed that sentiment, posting a lengthy blog post criticising Amazon's promotional system.
Amazon offers developers the "free app of the day" slot on the main page of the website.
However, despite initial promises of 20% of the normal selling price, even when the app is given away for free, Amazon has changed the system, meaning developers agree to give their apps away for free, with marketing the only benefit.
While Shifty Jelly was aware it wouldn't get paid, it agreed to run the "app of the day" promotion as an "experiment". On the day, the app was downloaded more than 100,000 times, leading to an increase in support requests and other problems, without the firm gaining a penny in revenue.
Now, the firm is looking to pull the app and only sell it via Apple and Google directly. We spoke to Shifty Jelly developer and co-founder Russell Ivanovic to find out more.
Q. You explained why you took part in the promotion – as an experiment. But why would anyone else agree to do it? Surely developers can say no?
A. Of course developers can say no. There are two issues we have with this, though. Firstly Amazon's public-facing statement is that we get 20% of our requested price, even if they give the application away. That's the agreement they tell everyone about, that's the agreement you sign-up for.
We've had hundreds of emails from people along the lines of "I always thought Amazon compensated developers for the Free App Of The Day"; some people even said they downloaded apps they didn't need, just to support the developer. Their 0% agreement is private, and comes with a strict non-disclosure clause (which we technically violated by publishing that blog post).
Secondly, developers – and especially so Android developers – are desperate for exposure. They are competing against thousands of other developers worldwide, and often making very little money. While I agree it's up to them to say yes or no, I'm sure you can see how we consider it to be predatory when a giant company like Amazon says “forget about that 20% thing, take 0%, but think of the exposure this will get you. We are the biggest game in town! By the way you're not allowed to talk about this with anyone else.”
As a desperate developer, that seems like a deal you should take, even though it's against the original deal you signed up for and could possibly hurt you badly.
You also assume that exposure is good, and in some cases it may well be, but for small developers like us it was quite brutal. To my mind, Amazon is trying to compete with the Google Market, which comes installed on almost every Android phone, and it is doing this at the expense of developers.
I applaud them making the facts known to all. Based on little information, they took a gamble and lost big-time. Now others have more information on which to decide.
By MJ2010 on 5 Aug 2011
the problems with Amazon's Appstore
It's not run by Apple, that's the real "problem" isn't it?
By Lacrobat on 7 Aug 2011
@Lacrobat -- In case it's not clear from the story, this is regarding Amazon's Appstore for Android. There isn't an Amazon store for iOS, so the alternative in this case would be Google's Market.
By Nicole_Kobie on 8 Aug 2011
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