Earlier this year, Amazon announced that it was preparing a proprietary virtual currency specifically for its Appstore. Then the incorrigible Eric Ravenscraft spent a few thousand words explaining exactly why Amazon Coins, and any system that substitutes real money for meaningless points, is just a pretense for sucking money out of people's wallets. If you can't wait to pay Amazon's tax on those without common sense, you can now hand over your real dollars for fake ones to spend on apps and in-app purchases.

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If you're a United States Amazon customer and you own any model of Kindle Fire, congratulations, you've just been credited with 500 Amazon Coins, or $5 in non-fake money. That's good news, at least if you're a developer. Despite the fact that Amazon Coins cost just a little less than "real" money, with savings of up to 10% if you buy $100 worth (10,000 coins), developers will be paid with the equivalent cash value. And the company claims that tens of millions of dollars have now been credited to Fire users, 70% of which may (eventually) make its way to developers' pockets.

Amazon Coins are available in the US at the moment, and can only be spent on the Amazon Appstore. They cannot be redeemed for standard Amazon goods or digital content. You can buy them at Amazon.com/coins. But don't. Please.

Amazon - Amazon Coins Now Available for Kindle Fire Customers

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May. 13, 2013-- —(NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon today announced that customers can now use Amazon Coins to purchase apps, games and in-app items in the Amazon Appstore and on Kindle Fire. To celebrate the launch, existing and new Kindle Fire customers in the U.S. have had 500 free Coins—a$5 value—deposited into their Amazon accounts today. For customers, Amazon Coins is an easy way to purchase apps and in-app items on Kindle Fire, and for developers it’s another opportunity to drive traffic, downloads and increased monetization. With discounts of up to 10% for purchasing Coins in bulk, it’s also an opportunity for customers to save money on their app and game purchases. Customers can purchase Coins by visiting amazon.com/coins.

“Today we are giving Kindle Fire owners $5 worth of Coins to spend on new apps and games, or to purchase in-app items, such as recipes in iCookbook, song collections in SongPop or mighty falcon bundles in Angry Birds Star Wars. And with discounts of up to 10% when you buy Coins, this is a great way for customers to save money when they buy apps, games and in-app items,” said Mike George, Vice President of Apps and Games at Amazon. “We will continue to add more ways to earn and spend Coins on a wider range of content and activities—today is Day One for Coins.”

Amazon Appstore developers will earn their standard 70% revenue share when customers make purchases using Amazon Coins. No Coins-specific changes are required for developers with apps and games currently in the Amazon Appstore. Developers not yet in the Amazon Appstore should submit their app today through the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal (https://developer.amazon.com/welcome.html).

Amazon Coins is the latest offering in an array of services that make Amazon the most complete end-to-end ecosystem for building, monetizing and marketing their apps and games. These capabilities include:

  • The ability for app developers to use Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) technology platform for their infrastructure needs. Building blocks such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and Amazon DynamoDB allow developers to focus on what differentiates their app rather than the undifferentiated heavy lifting of infrastructure.
  • App submission for distribution to nearly 200 countries globally enables developers to reach millions more Amazon customers worldwide.
  • In-App Purchasing on Kindle Fire, Mac, PC and web-based games. This enables developers to sell virtual items in their apps and games while allowing their end users to simply use their Amazon accounts to make the purchase.
  • GameCircle, which includes capabilities like Achievements, Leaderboards, Friends and Whispersync for syncing games across devices, and leads to better engagement with games.
  • Game Connect, which lets developers list their virtual goods for sale on Amazon, increasing discoverability of their games and making the purchase of virtual goods as easy and convenient as possible for customers, leading to increased monetization for developers.
Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Matt

    Let me guess: you can only buy them in multiples of 100 but everything costs 99 or 199, etc. Oh, and you can only turn money into Amazon coins, without the option to turn Amazon coins back into cash.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000003999549 Mike Harris

      Sometimes I think it's because companies just love screwing with us customers. It's the whole "six hot dogs to a pack, but 8 hot dog buns to a bag" issue.

      • Matt

        I just try to imagine what would happen if a country introduced a similar currency to Microsoft Points or Amazon, with the same restrictions. Within a day, inflation would skyrocket and the currency would be worthless. It's crazy to me that these companies introduce currencies more tightly controlled and less useful than any government in the world and act like it's somehow a benefit to the consumer.

      • Matthew Fry

        More like they sell hot dogs but you are only allowed to pay in tens and they only give change in hot dog coupons, the buns, ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut, and relish are extra, and as you leave the stand they punch you in the gut.

    • Matthew Fry

      I'm sure you can only buy them in increments of 63 where 63 = 90 cents and everything costs 70 coins. Lets add in gift card like "fees" for unspent coins too. Loss of 10 coins per month you have unspent coins. Also, you are taxed for the coins.

    • http://twitter.com/TheChrisGlass Chris Glass

      Even better, they tax you in coins. So if it's 99 coins, you have to pay another 9 coins in tax.

  • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

    So, its another name for a gift card. But its a gift card that is ONLY for the app store.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sfreemanoh Steve Freeman

    Good, this was a necessary improvement to the AppStore, since it's not like it already had a way to...make...purchases....wait a second!

  • squiddy20

    Just another reason to forgo using any of Amazon's apps, even the free ones.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

    At least they cosmetically look nice, but outside of Bitcoin I have learnt to be cynical of virtual currencies.

    Especially after Eric Ravenscaft's editorial post on the subject:

    Why do I keep forgetting about poor Eric? I thought David did the post. XD

  • Chris Laudermilk

    Hey look! Another reason to avoid Amazon.
    For anyone who believes Amazon is doing this to benefit the customer, I have a wonderful bridge for sale, cheap...

  • Justin Winford

    This is just....so weird...