September 7, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Amazon really wants to attract Android developers in order to increase the choices available in its Amazon Appstore. As a result, the company is providing a $50 credit for its web services to any developer who uploads an app. The deal runs from today until November 15, 2011.
On the surface, this seems like just another attempt at Amazon to swell the ranks of its alternative Android app market. I think it’s probably yet another sign that an Amazon tablet is all but guaranteed to launch this holiday season.
Many people wondered why Amazon would bother with an app store, especially one limited to only the United States, when it couldn’t compete directly with the Android Market. Doubters were momentarily silenced when the Free App of the Day turned out to be a tremendous marketing tool for getting people into the door, as did a few exclusive launches. The promotion managed to grab plenty of attention and quickly get on the radar of people looking for apps.
The “rotten to the core” story, that Amazon refused to respond to, later cast a negative light on the app store, and may have soured many existing developers from supporting the Amazon Appstore. I’ve noticed that the Free App of the Day has taken a nosedive in terms of quality and value, and have yet to see anyone say they use the store for anything other than free apps. That is unacceptable for Amazon and a problem that must be remedied.
The long-rumored Amazon tablet should arrive this November, and it likely won’t include the Android Market when it launches according to TechCrunch. Adventurous Android users are sure to hack it to get Market support, but most people buying the super affordable tablet will know only about the Appstore. Amazon must have a robust selection of quality apps that will keep those users satisfied, and it must increase developer appeal in order to do that. The FAOTD has proven to be more trouble than it’s worth for developers, and the controls that Amazon takes don’t encourage adoption.
Could bribing developers with AWS work? Amazon provides behind the scenes web services for many companies and developers, including storage and database management. A $50 credit might not make Glu Mobile suddenly decide to start supporting the Appstore, but it might be enough to attract an independent developer with a great idea and limited funds. If a developer is considering using AWS but thought about supporting only the Android Market, he’d be silly not to upload the app to Amazon – if only temporarily – in order to get the free credit.
It seems like everybody wins in this scenario. Developers save a few dollars, and Amazon gets to swell its ranks to claim it has tens of thousands of apps when its tablet arrives this holiday shopping season. Then again, we all know that the last win-win associated with the Amazon Appstore wasn’t necessarily a win for all parties involved.