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Amazon Appstore for Android Features, Page 2

  • September 16, 2011
  • By Lauren Darcey & Shane Conder
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Amazon Appstore for Android Feature #5: Application Pricing Policy

Amazon adjusts prices regularly on physical products. Anyone who has ever had a whole bunch of "save for later" items in their cart will have seen that product prices change on occasion. While we're not sure if this same system is in play with the app store pricing (yet), Amazon clearly retains final control over the price to customers. The initial agreement for paid apps says that the developer will always get some minimum amount, but there's no way for the developer to control the exact amount they get or what the customer pays. What this means for a developer is that if their margins are very low, or they have a fixed licensing fee for some technology they use, guaranteeing that each sale is above this amount may be difficult.

Then there's the "free app of the day" program. This is an opt-in program where Amazon chooses one premium app each day to provide for free. All apps provided in this way are usually paid apps. It's a highly visible promotion and is a great way for consumers to get apps they wouldn't otherwise have paid for. It's also a great for consumers to see what's available quality-wise if they had spent some money on apps. Finally, it's good for application developers in that it can give them a big boost in users if they are trying to build momentum.


Amazon Appstore Free App of the Day
Click here for larger image

Figure 2. Each day, Amazon Appstore Provides a Paid App for Free

For an app that has advertising or usage based monetization, this is great. The exposure brings in tons of app downloads in just one day. According to a couple of sources, this is often in excess of 100,000 downloads in the 24-hour period of the promotion. The concept is that your app then will garner more attention and reviews, rank higher on the best selling lists, rank higher in the ratings with more ratings, get better word of mouth promotion, and provide your service with more users.

Does that really happen? It depends on the app. For a truly well designed app, the free app of the day promotion can really capture the attention of consumers. An app heavily dependent on social features that needs more users may reach critical mass due to this sort of promotion.

What if the app, though, has a minor bug or doesn't work on some handset models? This sort of promotion can also backfire in a big way. Negative ratings are hard to overcome once they're logged. Amazon Appstore doesn't yet list ratings for different versions of an app, which may help those who suffer from this problem.

Perhaps even worse, if an app ends up on this promotion in the hopes of increasing sales dramatically, but has some problem or just isn't particularly interesting to that many users, the developer may find themselves with thousands of new users to support that haven't, and never will, paid a dime. And what if each of those users is using resources that cost money, such as server storage or bandwidth, but the app or service doesn't have any alternative methods of monetization? You could end up losing money on the whole deal.

But wait, you might be thinking. Doesn't Amazon owe the developer a certain minimum amount? Perhaps you've even heard of people downloading free apps simply to support the developer. Well, you'd be right on both counts. Except for one small wrinkle that has come to light recently: the daily free app promotion appears to be done under a separate agreement where the app developer doesn't actually make any money.

As an app developer, you'll want to think carefully about the big picture before jumping on seemingly "too good to be true" promotions: it just might be too good to be true for your business.

And finally, read the developer agreements very closely.

Conclusion

We're happy to see such a well respected company as Amazon supporting the Android platform not just by selling numerous Android devices, but with their own app store platform, the Amazon Appstore. While Amazon Appstore has many unique features compared to other Android application marketplaces, developers need to be aware of the ramifications of publishing through this channel. The good news is, Amazon Appstore is still relatively young, and likely to respond to developer and user feedback. Android Market remains the most popular marketplace for Android apps, but of all of the alternate markets we've seen arise, Amazon Appstore is the one you shouldn't ignore.

About the Authors

Shane Conder Shane Conder and Lauren Darcey--Contributing Editors, Mobile Development--have coauthored two books on Android development: an in-depth programming book entitled Android Wireless Application Development (ISBN-13: 978-0-321-62709-4) and Sams Teach Yourself Android Application Development in 24 Hours (ISBN-13: 978-0-321-67335-0). When not writing, they spend their time developing mobile software at their company and providing consulting services.

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Lauren Darcey

Tags: Amazon Appstore, Android Market, Android App development

Originally published on http://www.developer.com.

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