App Developers Call Amazon Appstore “Rotten”

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

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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