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Amazon App Store 'Rotten To the Core,' Says Dev 346

Posted by Soulskill
from the peer-pressure dept.
suraj.sun sends an excerpt from this post made by a developer who decided to try out Amazon's App Store, only to be disappointed with the experience: "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. ... Amazon is being predatory here, and asking developers (who are often desperate for exposure) to give away their app, in order to promote Amazon. 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. The day of our promotion came: ... Amazon gave away 101,491 copies of our app! 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 right, over 100,000 apps given away, $0 made."
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Amazon App Store 'Rotten To the Core,' Says Dev

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  • Re:math is hard (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @06:43PM (#36966004)

    From TF- no, wait, from the second sentence of the summary:

    "their terms say that they pay developers 20% of the asking price of an app, even when they give it away free."

    RTFS I guess?

  • by bonch (38532) * on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @06:45PM (#36966026)

    Speaking of which, it seems like you didn't RTFA, which states that Amazon publicly declares 20% to developers, even for free apps, but then sends an email saying it's actually 0% and that you're not allowed to publicly discuss it. That was followed by a list of other major problems with the store.

    Even the usual Slashdot logic which predicts that giving away something for free is "free advertising" that somehow generates sales didn't happen in this situation. Fail all around.

  • by chrb (1083577) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @06:55PM (#36966140)

    There wasn't any confusion. From TFA:

    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.

    It was clear that they understood that they were being asked to "give away their app".

  • Re:Facts (Score:5, Informative)

    by psyclone (187154) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @07:43PM (#36966568)

    There are a handful of Terms of Service that are tracked by the EFF project TOSBack [tosback.org].

    Unfortunately, only two Amazon policies [tosback.org] are being tracked.

  • Re:Biased Summary (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @09:12PM (#36967286)

    Right, but they did have to upgrade their server hardware to deal with those 101,491 users they wouldn't have had otherwise and they couldn't pay for it out of income from the app

    I was really curious about this statement because it just didn't sound right. Why would a company choose to allow their item to be the "FAOTD" if they couldn't reasonable handle the demand? But, I did the unthinkable and RTFA and sure enough, they did mention server capacity as well as additional customer support for their app to the tune of "300 emails" that gave them "a headache".

    But, you know what, I have to agree with the GP on this one, TFS makes it out to be that Amazon is the bad guy here but TBH it sounds more like an attempt to redirect personal responsibility for making a clearly bad business decision. Here's the sequence that the blog points out:

    1. Blog points out that Amazon "publicly claims they pay 20% of retail price for FAOTD"
    2. Blog then points out that Amazon is up-front (in bolded emphasised letters) that devs. receive no income for FAOTD *before* company signed up for the program
    3. Developer writes back talking about "original developer agreement" (ODA) that pays 20% but that doesn't state anything about if the ODA includes the FAOTD feature or if it's just a general "we'll pay you 20% of sale" and naive developers think "well, that must be 20% of listed retail even if 'they' choose to sell it for free right?
    4. Amazon responded *again* that you get no income from sales but you do get the advertising of page placement (argue what you will of how valuable it is)
    5. (*note* company has still not signed up for FAOTD day yet)
    6. Developer calls Amazon "predatory" for this practice (IMHO which contributes to my believe that said developer has no business sense and a very inflated sense of the value of their product, which is no surprise to me the more I've been dealing with "inventors" and their belief that *their* product is a billion $ idea and you just don't get it)
    7. Developer A and Developer B (sounds like a 2 person shop) argue and discuss the offer and agree that the "exposure" and "data collected" was worth 'trying'.
    8. (Developer has now agreed to Amazon's terms, and knows 100% full well, in clear plain English that they will not get paid for any sales of their App on promotion day)
    9. Developer gets an email that shows over 100k apps download. In what I would agree is a fault on Amazon's part is that it appears the email Amazon sends as a report of App sales still shows the 20% earnings value as if the App wasn't free (thought they do show the app price as $0). This does send a confusing message to the developer. I can see the developer, for a short period of time, having false hope that maybe they miss-understood Amazon and actually ARE going to get earnings despite their agreement that they wouldn't.
    10. After probably confirming the email report to only be showing what it would have earned, if they sold that many normally, the developer calls Amazon's deal "secret back-door dealings" as if Amazon lied to their face (which they clearly didn't in the guys own blog).

    So, I stopped reading there.

    Long story short, this developer has a false sense of worth for their "baby", clearly understood what they were getting into, made a hugely bad business decision (welcome to being an entrepreneur) and is now trying to blame Amazon for causing his pain, instead of blaming his own decision and also appears to be trying to pull a "I told you so" to his partner and rub it into his face. despite the fact that he (admittedly) agreed to it none-the-less.

    I'm so sick of this "I didn't do anything wrong" idiotic blog posts, when they clearly laid out everything they did wrong, just because they can't admit they made a bad decision. Instead of learning from their mistake they want to demon-ize "the big evil corporation".

  • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @03:41AM (#36969436)

    You can cross link by putting a link to the comment numbered link on the top right in this case #36966086 [slashdot.org].

    Having said that, that post is totally beside the point. The way the deal is publicly presented makes it look like it's a good opportunity for developers. You get a chance to get some cash now and increase your installed base at the risk of some loss of full price sales. You also get good placement. That makes Amazon's app store more attractive for those developers.

    The trick is that when you actually do get offered a free placement, then it turns out that the deal which is published is not the deal which is really available. By that time you have already committed to Amazon's app store so it is too late to back out. This looks to me like a bait and switch [wikipedia.org] situation which would be illegal for a consumer product sale.

    It's important to note, that if you had Read The Fine Article Properly you would have seen that they went into this as an experiment and are publishing not to complain but to warn others. You would also have seen that Amazon stated that the promotion gives

    "highly valuable placements"

    but it turned out that the influence on app sales beyond the promotion was very small, possibly even negative.

    Further note that, even when asked

    If I read this correctly youâ(TM)d like to give away our application for free, and pay us nothing?

    Amazon responded

    We want to promote your app and in exchange of the placements, at the 0% rev share for one day only.

    instead of just clearly stating that there would be no revenue. What does that mean? That Amazon will take 0% of the revenue? That the promotion will cost you 0% of the revenue or that you will get 0% of the revenue. Now, thanks to Shift Jelly's valuable posting, we know exactly.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

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