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Author Topic: Want to be in Amazon's App Store? Think again!  (Read 5336 times)
40hz
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« on: August 05, 2011, 06:48:01 PM »



This is one of "those stories" that just blows my mind:


Quote
Amazon App Store: Rotten To The Core (full story)

About 3 months ago, we set off on a little experiment into the world of the Amazon App Store. Back then people were hailing it as the solution to the problems with the Google Market, industry pundits like Andy Ihnatko called it ‘An Excellent Work in Progress‘.

Amazon’s biggest feature by far, has been their Free App Of The Day promotion. Publicly their terms say that they pay developers 20% of the asking price of an app, even when they give it away free. To both consumers and naive developers alike, this seems like a big chance to make something rare in the Android world: real money. But here’s the dirty secret Amazon don’t want you to know, they don’t pay developers a single cent.

Amazing story of how the developer of an app called Pocket Casts (which had sold about 200 copies before being listed as Free App of the Day) suddenly had 101,491 copies downloaded in 24 hours with ZERO revenue to show for it!

Scary!  tellme

Read all about it here.

« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 06:58:30 PM by 40hz » Logged

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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2011, 08:11:29 PM »

  huh

So if I give away another authors work, it's piracy.

But if a large corporation gives away another authors work, it's a free promotional placement deal.

Freaking amazing what you can do with a good lawyer ain't it?

They basically got raped in an alley and then received a bill for their attacker's services.
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40hz
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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2011, 09:10:44 PM »

But if a large corporation gives away another authors work, it's a free promotional placement deal.

Well, yes. But it wasn't without the developer's consent (emphasis added):

 
Quote
All this seemed way too one sided to us, Amazon is being predatory here, and asking developers (who are often desperate for exposure) to give away their app, in order to promote Amazon. A heated debate broke out in our office about whether we should or not. I was firmly against, my business partner for. In the end we agreed that we had entered the world of Android development as an experiment, and it would seem silly not to add more data to the experiment we were conducting.

I think the takeaway is more that if you want to play in the big leagues, you'd better think deeply about the ramifications (especially worst case) before you agree to anything.

This story sort of  reminds me of that great ad that was running on TV where a fictional small start-up manufacturing firm was intently watching a counter after they put up their web shopping cart. They cheered when the first order arrived. Then they did some back slapping and high fives as the number climbed to 100 and then 200 orders. Then the smiles faded and gradually turned into looks of stark horror as the 'orders received' counter inexorably climbed up by rapid leaps to six digits - and then kept on climbing...



Everybody plans for failure. Not enough planning goes into what to do if you succeed (in marketing) beyond your wildest dreams. Either scenario will sink a business. That's why many businesses mark the anniversary of their best year ever by oscillating out of control and doing a crash & burn.

 Cool

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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2011, 09:24:52 PM »

But if a large corporation gives away another authors work, it's a free promotional placement deal.

Well, yes. But it wasn't without the developer's consent (emphasis added):

The developers consented because they thought they were getting paid for it:

Quote
At this point, we had a few seconds of excitement as well, had we mis-read the email and really earned $54,800 in one day? We would have done if our public agreement was in place, but we can now confirm that thanks to Amazon’s secret back-door deals, we made $0 on that day.


That's where the lawyers and the alley come into play. Wink
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Renegade
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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2011, 09:45:55 PM »

  huh

So if I give away another authors work, it's piracy.

But if a large corporation gives away another authors work, it's a free promotional placement deal.

Kill somebody and you're a murderer. Kill a thousand and you're a hero.

Freaking amazing what you can do with a good lawyer ain't it?

Pulling out the oxymorons, eh?

They basically got raped in an alley and then received a bill for their attacker's services.

Pretty much...

Amazon MUST have a clue about what kinds of numbers developers can expect from a "free promotion", so it seems that they're being grossly negligent in not informing the developer about the kinds of numbers they can expect. 100k new users in a day is a lot.

I feel sorry for those poor guys. Jeez...
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Deozaan
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2011, 11:25:09 PM »

Well, I haven't read the original article yet, but I just felt I should chime in and say that, like piracy, a free copy doesn't necessarily equate to a lost sale.

I've been checking the Amazon Android App Store Free App of the Day frequently and have "purchased" (read: gotten for free) many of the giveaways but most of them don't even interest me and I haven't even downloaded them to my Android device and I certainly wouldn't buy them. I just keep getting them because I'm a sucker for free stuff, even if I don't want or need it.

I should also say that I'm not at all surprised by this news. I read a warning put out by some indie game development site the IGDA a few months ago strongly urging people not to put their games on the Amazon App Store because of Amazon's policies. I'll try to find it and then post the link in this thread.

Update: article quoted and linked to below
« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 12:05:40 PM by Deozaan; Reason: added info for IGDA and linked to my post with the article » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2011, 12:48:03 AM »

The developers consented because they thought they were getting paid for it:

Wrong. Reread the article.

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40hz
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« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2011, 05:34:49 AM »

The developers consented because they thought they were getting paid for it:

Wrong. Reread the article.



Exactly. They understood they weren't going to get paid but decided to go along with Amazon's arrangement despite their reservations about it.

Although Amazon allegedly paints a false public picture about how the Free App o' the Day works revenue wise - when it comes down to signing on the dotted line, they are quite explicit about the fact that Amazon will not be compensating the developer for its participation in the giveaway program. To wit:

Quote
The Free App of the Day promotion is the most valuable and visible spot in the store. It hosted the launch of the likes of Angry Birds Rio, Plants v. Zombies and more. Amazon will not receive any sales rev share from the Free App of the Day; and in fact, with as the Free of the Day for one day, you will receive a subsequent Appstore main page placement for the following 14 days.

All these highly valuable placements are at no cost to you. We want to promote your app and in exchange of the placements, at the 0% rev share for one day only.

I had to reread that section in the blog post myself just to be sure I understood what was being said.

The author of the article basically argues that Amazon leads developers on with false expectations about how the giveaway works along with whatever direct benefits the developer can expect by participating. But he's also careful to admit that, whatever the spiel Amazon is spinning, his company knew, going in, that they weren't going to get paid for whatever got downloaded.

Again, I think the lesson in the story isn't that Amazon is a bunch of lying scoundrels - although the author does make some gestures in that direction. The real lesson is that small developers need to be careful whenever they're dealing with a big distributor - or have the potential for a major demand spike because of the deal they're offering.

A few years back, Codeweavers offered a free copy of their extremely popular CrossOver emulator if any one of several improbable news events occurred within a given time frame. When one of them (and not even the most likely one) did come to pass, Codeweavers had so many free licenses registered in the wake of it that they were very much in danger of going out of business - because it now looked like anybody (including businesses) who might possibly consider purchasing or upgrading copies of CrossOver now had free licenses for it.

To Codeweaver's credit, they honored their deal anyway, and ultimately rode out the storm - emerging significantly poorer - but infinitely wiser from the ordeal.


This situation has been handled in a less ethical (and possibly legal) manner by many small software developers who offered "lifetime" licenses or upgrades and then resorted to semantic shell games and other forms of legerdemain in order to not honor their deals once the financial impact began to be felt.

So know what you're getting into (in real terms) before you go in on something with a behemoth like Amazon.

As one of my business mentors once told me: Don't ever let your mouth write a check your ass can't cover.

 Thmbsup

« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 05:44:13 AM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2011, 08:59:47 AM »

Okay, reread it, doesn't change my opinion. Because it don't make a damn bit of difference if they were told after the fact or just on the cusp of shortly before (a typical just legal enough tactic) it was to late. The point is that the game was/is designed to get-the-ball-rolling fast enough that stopping isn't an option when the rest of the details are clarified. Oh it's not actually 20% in money, it's 20% in in-tangent marketing "value".

It's the same bullshit Carney game that plays out at the heart of the midway. Obfuscate the details and keep'em moving to fast to pullout without just enough embarrassment to make'em do it anyway.
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40hz
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« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2011, 11:49:00 AM »

IMHO, it's never too late to bail out in a business situation. Especially if it's a bad deal you find yourself in the middle of. Like the poker players say: If, at any time, you can't afford to fold your hand and leave the table, you can't afford to be sitting there to begin with.

Seriously. If you can't walk away from a deal, you're in way over your head.

You can always say "no" in a business situation. Pity people don't do it more often. It would go a long way towards reducing the amount of BS that passes for "business as usual."
 smiley
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« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2011, 11:51:24 AM »

I should also say that I'm not at all surprised by this news. I read a warning put out by some indie game development site a few months ago strongly urging people not to put their games on the Amazon App Store because of Amazon's policies. I'll try to find it and then post the link in this thread.

I found the article from the International Game Developers Association I had referenced:

Two weeks ago, Amazon launched its own Android Appstore. We know that many developers have been eagerly looking forward to that launch in hopes that it would represent a great new revenue opportunity and a fresh take on downloadable game merchandising. The IGDA applauds Amazon’s efforts to build a more dynamic app marketplace. However, the IGDA has significant concerns about Amazon’s current Appstore distribution terms and the negative impact they may have on the game development community, and we urge developers to educate themselves on the pros and cons of submitting content to Amazon.

Read the rest of it here. They go on to explain in detail the problems they have with Amazon's terms.

And an update after Amazon attempted to clarify its terms:

In summary, Amazon’s terms still enable it to steeply discount a game developer’s content without permission — a tactic Amazon could easily use to force game developers to absorb the cost for Amazon to compete with other appstores.

We are not impressed with Amazon’s recent gesture, nor is this matter the result of a misunderstanding. We believe that Amazon’s terms, as they currently stand, represent a threat to game developers.

Read that update here.

They are both good reads and warnings from back in April about the potential (and apparently inevitable) pitfalls of Amazon's Android App Store.
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« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2011, 11:55:32 AM »

Y'know... This really reconfirms that it's a very good thing to uniquely identify users. (Not personally identify.)

After a stunt like that, I would be VERY tempted to simply turn off all the free Amazon users.

Then again, I'm on like drink number 8 or something... So I might just be slipping into jackass mode...
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2011, 08:58:25 AM »

IMHO, it's never too late to bail out in a business situation. Especially if it's a bad deal you find yourself in the middle of. Like the poker players say: If, at any time, you can't afford to fold your hand and leave the table, you can't afford to be sitting there to begin with.

Thanks, now I got Kenny Rogers stuck in my head for the day...


Seriously. If you can't walk away from a deal, you're in way over your head.

While I agree, the game plan as I see it (at the corporate entry level) seems to be leverage everything and bluff like ya got brass balls.


You can always say "no" in a business situation. Pity people don't do it more often. It would go a long way towards reducing the amount of BS that passes for "business as usual."
 smiley

In a perfect world my friend, in a perfect world...

But the big corporations like to keep the game cut-throat so the player turnover is quick as it's much more fun that way (for them).
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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2011, 11:01:39 AM »

And they wonder why the gun market is red hot! What a completely depressing story.
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40hz
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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2011, 12:47:52 PM »

In a perfect world my friend, in a perfect world...

And in my world too. (Which is very far from perfect I assure you.  Grin)

You can always say "no." You just have to be willing to deal with the consequences.

But a certain willingness to deal with the consequences of a decision has always been an acid test to determine just how important something really is to a given individual.

And that remains the case whether the answer is 'no' - or 'yes' - for that matter. Cool

Quote
But the big corporations like to keep the game cut-throat so the player turnover is quick as it's much more fun that way (for them).

"Greetings Dr. Falken. A strange game. The only winning move is not to play..."  -Joshua in the movie War Games

Something to think about.  Cool

« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 01:01:26 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2011, 01:03:10 PM »

In a perfect world my friend, in a perfect world...

And in my world too. (Which is very far from perfect I assure you.  Grin)

You can always say "no." You just have to be willing to deal with the consequences.

But a certain willingness to deal with the consequences of a decision has always been an acid test to determine just how important something really is to a given individual.

And that remains the case whether the answer is 'no' - or 'yes' - for that matter. Cool


There's a fundamental problem at work.

If I offer you 100 units of awesomeness, but also deliver 1 unit of shitiness, then it's still an attractive proposition for you. The conclusion? You take it because you're up 99 units.

However, units of shitiness are cumulative and applied to everyone.

That's how things really work. We get suckered in by accepting a tiny, little, insignificant inconvenience. But when everyone does that, we all pay for it later on.

It's a fantastic idea actually. Evil or not, it's wicked cool if you think about it.
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« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2011, 06:19:09 AM »

Part of the problem is many developers seem to think the answer to making profitable apps is still in selling the app itself.

I think there's more money in ads and in-app purchases and if they used either of those then Amazon giving away their app for free would have been a fantastic opportunity for them.

Mobile apps are the razors and printers of the software world.
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2011, 03:25:35 PM »

I can understand that a giving your application for free will not give you any money (I would be surprise if it do). The only value you might get it is to promote your software.

However, I do not understand the reason of showing the 54k on the statement, unless is a plan to commit fraud on promotions. Something in the lines of, "the average developer makes X amount of money." Of course, it could just simply be a bug on their online software.

That said, a better promotion for a developer (whose source of income is the app) would be to make 2 versions of the applications. One free (either limited or with ads) and one for pay. People like free stuff, but dislike ads and limitations.

Another way would be to make a free app that would only work with an online service that have a subscription model. There you could either give the first month for free or offer a limited service for free. (So that people can try your service.)

The most stupid way to promote your app (when the app is the product and not a cookie to attract to your real product), is to give it away for free forever.
Some side effects on this:
- People that bought your application before will feel cheated. And might wait before buying another application from you (to see if you will also place it for free).
- Potential buyers that got your application on the free day will have no reason to buy your application. In this case you sales will lower instead of rise.
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