Nearly a month ago, we heard from the developer of Apparatus that the "Amazon Appstore is a disaster." To take a look at the other side of the situation, we sat down with Aaron Rubenson, the head of the Amazon Appstore. Now we have another developer, ShiftyJelly, chiming in with an even worse horror story: they were featured as the free app of the day (FAOTD), their app was downloaded 101,491 times, and they made $0 for it.
Their story isn't a fluke, either; Amazon made it abundantly clear that they do not compensate developers for the FAOTD. In the initial email itself, they even bold that there is 0% revenue sharing for the FAOTD (probably because, you know, Amazon makes 0 revenue giving out free stuff anyway), and further clarified that the developer would indeed not make a cent during the promotion. Mind you, this is contrary to the what Amazon leads people to believe - that they pay developers to be featured as the free app of the day.
In the two companies' correspondence, Amazon argued that being featured as the FAOTD would improve sales in the future since the app would be featured on the main page for 14 days. What actually happened was that sales were up the day following being featured as the FAOTD, and then promptly dropped back to normal levels. Oh, and then Amazon discounted the app to $0.99 after running it for free.
The story gets uglier, though. Much as we heard during the Apparatus story, the developers had a lot more customer emails to address - by their estimates, they had 300 emails per day. Mind you, these are support emails that required tailored responses. Things get even worse: the app (Pocket Casts) interacts with ShiftyJelly servers on a regular basis, and all the new users of the app forced the developers to purchase new hardware to support the load.
They also point out a lot of other shortcomings that we've heard about before:
- Lengthy review times of anywhere up to 2 weeks (I’ve lost count of the amount of emails from people asking why our Google Market app is newer)
- Amazon gets to set the price of your app to whatever they want, without any input from you, or even the chance to reject their price
- Amazon re-writes your description, and in ours they even made up things like ‘add up to 100 podcasts’. No idea where on earth they got that number from
- Amazon don’t provide error reports like Google do making it hard to fix errors [sic]
- They don’t yet support Google’s new multiple APK initiative
- Amazon pays far later than Google does, and to date we haven’t received any cheques from them, even though we are listed as being ‘payed’
- US Only
- Much less real-time sales information than Google
- Update: (and this one surprised us) you can’t remove apps from their store! You have to ask them for permission via an email. Every other store lets you remove apps from sale.
It's unfortunate to see smaller (self-funded) developers go through such strain, especially when a lot of people had such high hopes for the Amazon Appstore. Then again, a lot of people really only want to use it for the free app of the day (and nothing else), so maybe that's a clue right there.