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App Developers Call Amazon Appstore "Rotten"

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Shift Jelly Pocket Cast Appstore

When Amazon launched its AppStore last March, one of the major features was the free App of the Day, but one company has found this promotion is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Recently, mobile developer Shifty Jelly posted a blog entitled “Amazon App Store: Rotten to the Core” which outlined how it felt Amazon had gone back on their promise to give developers 20 per cent of the list price of the app even when apps are discounted.

Shifty Jelly’s Pocket Cast was chosen by Amazon to feature as App of the Day but an email from Amazon (see below) offering it the chance to take part in the promotion, highlighted a previously unknown fact - that instead of 20 per cent of the list price, the developers would receive nothing, no matter how many apps were sold.

As you may already know, the Free App of the Day offer placement is one of the most visible and valuable spaces on the Amazon Appstore. We would like to include your app “[name removed]” in our Free App of the Day calendar. We have seen tremendous results from this promotion spot and believe it will bring you a great deal of positive reviews and traffic. It is an opportunity to build your brand especially in association with a brand like Amazon’s. The current price of this placement is at 0% rev share for that one day you are placed.

[Emphasis included by Amazon]

Amazon Appstore App of the Day

Despite being conflicted about not getting paid for their work, the developers decided to go ahead with the promotion. On the day Pocket Cast was the free App of the Day, it was downloaded over 100,000 times. If the 20 per cent agreement was in place, Shifty Jelly would have earned around $55,000 for one day. As it is, it earned nothing.

As well as giving away its podcasting app for free, Shift Jelly has also had to purchase additional servers to help it parse the podcast feeds to meet additional demand from new users. Amazon also promises to place the free App of the Day on the first page of the Appstore for the week following the promotion, but this didn’t lead to the promised extra sales for Shifty Jelly, with the graph below showing the dramatic fall off in interest.

Shifty Jelly Pocket Cast Appstore

Shifty Jelly also listed other issues it had with the Appstore including lengthy review times, Amazon re-writing developers’ app descriptions, no error reports and the fact the Appstore is still only available in the US.

We put in a call to Amazon for a response to the post from Shifty Jelly, and this is what it had to say:

The Amazon Appstore for Android’s distribution agreement gives developers 70% of the sales price for each app.  If we decide to discount an app, developers are also guaranteed a minimum revenue share equal to 20% of the app’s list price. The Free App of the Day is one of a number of promotional opportunities we offer developers who want to market their apps in new ways.  Developers are asked to waive payment for sales while their app is featured in Free App of the Day (we’re not collecting money on those sales either), but the decision to participate is always up to the developer.  Free App of the Day is designed to aid discovery of apps through the Amazon Appstore and developers can choose whether the increased exposure makes the modified payment terms worthwhile.  The promotion has proven popular with developers because it provides a high-profile exposure opportunity and can help developers add to their installed base quickly.

Shifty Jelly has now removed the app from the Appstore, but it is still available in the Android Market. On the Amazon Appstore, the app is listed as suppressed.

Source: Shift Jelly’s blog of mystery

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