There is a groundswell of discontent starting to build up against the Amazon Appstore, particularly from independent developers. One of the biggest salvos against Amazon has come from Bithack, developers of Apparatus. They recently wrote a blog post describing their experience with the Amazon Appstore. It was not kind.
Apparently Amazon has a review process for their Appstore that is much like the other “App Store” – it took two weeks for Apparatus to originally be rejected by Amazon for not using secured HTTP connections. Apparently, future updates took just as long for approval from Amazon. Apple has been known to take up to two weeks at times for approving apps, but they also have to approve every single app that comes in to the App Store; the Amazon Appstore is considerably less crowded. It is also apparently difficult for developers to limit which devices their apps can be installed on, something that the Android Market seems to have a better handle on.
One of the most damning accusations from this report is that Amazon not only basically uses their contracts with developers to renege on the supposed 20% cut that developers would get if their app was offered for free by Amazon, but that they also apparently dropped the price of the game to $0.99 without any kind of alert, after a problematic review popped up that they could not do anything about. Amazon apparently made it difficult for users to get in touch with Bithack, whereas the Android Market offers email and even phone number information on each app’s page. Compare this with Mika Mobile’s experience, where they said they got too much email from users!
What both Bithack and Mika Mobile have in common is that both have not had great sales from the Amazon Appstore. Combined with the rest of their experience, Bithack have actually pulled Apparatus from the Amazon Appstore. Their 95 theses posted on the door of Amazon has made the rounds around Android enthusiasts, and has drawn the eye of the Independent Game Developers’ Associaiton. Back in April, they warned about Amazon’s ability to set their own prices, and reiterated their warning recently when the Apparatus fiasco happened. The question becomes whether secondary app stores on Android will continue to be utilized by developers. If they aren’t providing any kind of tangible advantage to those who sell on these secondary stores, and force developers to agree to draconian policies that could ultimately hurt their ability to gain revenue, then why would they sell on these other stores, unless they are rejected from the Android Market specifically? Android’s freedom, especially with the ability to distribute apps outside of the Market easily, is a strength, but it really does feel like third-parties are trying to exploit it and developers for their own gain.