Amazon Appstore free app of the day hurts devs more than it helps?

August 3, 2011
7

A very interesting story has surfaced at ShiftyJelly about what it means to a developer who gets their app featured as the Amazon Appstore Free App of the Day. Clearly, the free app of the day is a move by Amazon to increase the traffic to the Appstore in hopes of selling other apps as well. You might expect that the developer that offers the app for free gets some payment out of the deal, but that would not be correct.

Since Amazon makes no money on the app, it pays no money out. For some apps that might not be a big deal, the hope is that the exposure will help the developer sell more copies of the app after it runs as App of the Day. The ShiftyJelly app that was featured as the Free App of the Day was Pocket Casts. According to the devs they would have made $54,805.14 from their 20% of the app sales had they actually been paid for the 101,491 copies of Pocket Casts that were given away. Instead, they got nothing.

The developers also say that the two weeks after the promotion that they were moved to the Appstore main page Amazon cut the price of their app to 99 cents costing them money again. In the case of Pocket Casts, the app uses a server to parse podcast feeds and the new influx of free users meant that they had to buy new hardware and maintain that hardware. In the end, the Free App of the Day deal cost the developers money. After the promotion ended, their sales went back to the same levels that were seen before all it started. The only difference is they have more expenses as a result.


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  • http://twitter.com/mikedonatello Mike Donatello

    The logical error in this argument is that the devs would sell as many copies of the app as are given away for free. I doubt that is the case.

    • Anonymous

      from the free apps that i have gotten, 2 of them are what i would consider small independent apps, this one and gentle alarm.  pocket casts has a problem with paid-for podcasts and gentle alarm seems a bit redundant to any normal alarm.  small time developers really are not done a great service selling their stuff at amazon.  if they feel the price of exposure is worth the loss of control of their app, good on them.  but at this juncture, i would say the only real advantage the amazon app store has on the android market is the ability to try the app on your computer before you buy it.

      were i a small time developer, i would stay the hell away from amazon and do a bunch of word-of-mouth advertising.

  • http://twitter.com/mikedonatello Mike Donatello

    The logical error in this argument is that the devs would sell as many copies of the app as are given away for free. I doubt that is the case.

  • Hazeblaze777

    This makes sense. I never thought of the promotion helping developers anyway… Perhaps it is supposed to be free marketing & a way to get word of mouth out there, but the sole benefit seems to be in attracting attention for Amazon. Personally, I wonder if that has had the desired results… I ONLY use Amazon application store for free Apps.

  • Bmedic1999

    I love the free app.  it has lead to the purchase of several other apps for me.  So it works people… dont try to fix it.

  • Anonymous

    i’m not sure if the devs at shifty jelly would go to every site that linked up to their article, but i would have posted this at giz before they shut the comments down:

    from my perspective, the app looks good however it doesn’t support the paid-for podcast.  i got the app through the amazon store, but after finding out the dirty details, it makes me:
    A) not want to use the amazon store again and 
    B) helping contribute to the mess they are in

    i don’t really use this podcast app because they don’t have the capacity to get paid-for podcasts (and it appears that my version may not ever get that ability) but when (it’s not a matter of if, i e-mailed the devs over the weekend and they said they are working on adding that feature) i may go get it.

    something else that i wanted to mention about the amazon app store on the user side of things- when you do fire up the amazon app store app and they list the updated apps, ever notice how they will list the apps that have updated but never list what the updates are?  i e-mailed amazon about that and they told me that they were working on the ability to list the changes made to the apps.  when i read that i wondered how hard it could be to take the list of changes made to an app on the app’s page when a dev submits an update.  this was three months ago and since that time the official app store app has undergone an update but still no detailed listing of any app.  shifty jelly’s story makes sense as to why no updates are ever listed.

    probably the best policy at this point is to use the amazon app store free app as an extended trial of the app (15 minutes is NOT a long enough time to decide whether or not an app is worth keeping, sorry google) and then if you like it enough go buy the app in the market, especially if it is from a small developer group.  i’m a somewhat moral pirate- if i think an app is good enough and worth the price, i will buy it after obtaining it from other means.  but what amazon is doing is wrong on multiple levels and i don’t think i can get behind practices like that.

  • http://twitter.com/TurboFool Jarrett Kaufman

    This contradicts everything we were told when it launched. It was clearly stated that Amazon paid out to the developer their normal percentage of the full price of the app so the developer wasn’t hurt by it, and Amazon simply puts that expenditure into their advertising budget. Were we lied to then, or is this new story inaccurate?