What’s Bad about the Amazon Appstore?
Once again we’ll take a look at the consumer point of view first. The apps and games listed are displayed to every customer regardless of their smartphone. Unlike the Android Market, the Amazon Appstore will allow you to buy apps and games that won’t work on your phone because it isn’t supported. This leads to unfairly poor ratings for developers from disgruntled customers who unwittingly downloaded an app that their phone doesn’t support.
If you want to use the Amazon Appstore you have to install the app and if you don’t have an Amazon account you’ll need to set one up and give your credit card information. The process for installing apps involves more clicks from the user than the Android Market does and some apps have DRM so you have to have the Appstore app installed and you have to be signed in to use your app.
The Amazon Appstore is not available for all Android handsets carried by AT&T and worse it is only available to U.S. customers. Irritatingly there is no warning about this when you install the app so you can complete the whole process, as I did in the UK, only to try to download an app and discover that you aren’t allowed to.
The situation for developers is even worse. It costs $99 per year to sign up (this is currently waived for your first year). You can set your own price, but Amazon reserve the right to set whatever price they like. For every app that you sell Amazon will pay you either 20% of the developer’s price that you set or 70% of the sale price, whichever is greater. This allows them to run promotions and bundle deals, but it could seriously eat into your profit and they can change the price without asking you. They can also rewrite your app description and their approval process is slow. This also has an impact on updates for apps and games.
The “Free App of the Day" promotion is a nightmare for developers. Amazon will contact a developer and ask them if they want to participate, but developers should consider this very careful before they agree. Amazon basically gives your app away for free for a day and pays you absolutely nothing. They argue that this gets your app prominent placement in the store and will lead to increased sales, but several developers who participated have a different tale to tell.
This blog post from developer Shifty Jelly shows exactly how this can go wrong for developers. Amazon gave away over 100,000 copies of their app and they got a minimal bump in sales. This bad experience with Amazon isn’t an isolated case either, check out this post from Bithack.