Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Or in this case, don’t mess with the developers that create your products. In a blog post this morning an app developer turned whistleblower, Shifty Jelly, exposes the truth behind Amazon’s Appstore for Android.
The complaint centers around the Amazon ‘Free App of the Day’ promotion, something they tout as “one of the most visible and valuable spaces on the Amazon Appstore.” Enticing developers with the promise of increased traffic resulting in countless sales and new reviews based on the merit of riding the coattails of the Amazon brand.
This all sounds like a pretty reasonable gamble, if only the terms and conditions surrounding participation were clear and easy to understand. While the Appstore agreement indicates that Amazon will pay developers 20% of the selling price for their promoted app, the truth seems to be that a little doublespeak eliminates that promise.
Add to this that the Amazon Appstore delivers apps much slower than the Android Marketplace, sometimes taking as long as two weeks to perform a review. Additional complains from developers discuss the lack of meaningful analytics and no automatic way to manage their own submissions, instead making them write to ask permission.
By comparison, Apple has also been criticized for slow review times and rigid system of guidelines for approval… but they’ve never failed to deliver payment to a developer and their app discovery is generally regarded as superior to competitors.
So with Android fighting tooth and nail to increase their marketshare and work toward upsetting Apple’s dominance, does news like this set them back? It has been said that too many cooks spoil the broth, and this may be where Apple excels. Complain about their need for total control, but in the end that means they don’t need to worry about the mistakes and missteps of others.
In the case of this developer, there was no return on their Amazon investment. In the end, Amazon delivered over 100,000 copies of their app to users at no cost and further discounted subsequent day’s sales to $0.99 resulting in even more lost revenue. Add to that the overhead spent responding to e-mails from these new users and having to provide server resources for the app itself, the numbers add up to a complete loss.
It should be no surprise that Shifty Jelly has decided not to list their apps in the Amazon Appstore any longer and they feel strongly that they aren’t the only ones making this move. True or not, even rumors that fewer apps are being submitted to Amazon may be enough to encourage would-be downloaders to just take a pass. Not only that, there may be a bit of tarnish on Amazon’s reputation now, which can be hard to remove.
So what happens next? It seems the ball is in Amazon’s court.