AMAZON UNDERGROUND: $10,000 worth of "Actually Free" apps and games replace Free Amazon App of the Day
Huge change to Amazon's former "Free Android App of the Day" feature. It's gone. In its place is Amazon Underground app.
The first stories I read left me unclear on what this actually means for customers and how this will work.
Amazon, though, has a suitably underground-looking graphic on its Amazon Underground page. While you can read it easily on a desktop or larger tablet, it's harder to see on a phone or smaller tablet. I found a text copy of it and am including it here for much easier reading and I've highlighted the more important aspects of the new feature.
I was glad to see that the apps that are designated 'Actually Free' -- despite these apps normally having paid tiers -- will be automatically available on the Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablets as well as on any Android tablet.
' Dear Customers,
Amazon Underground is a new app for your Android phone. It has all of the functionality of our regular Amazon mobile shopping app... plus an exciting addition: over ten thousand dollars in apps, games and in-app items that are actually free.
Many apps and games that are marked as "free" turn out not to be completely free. They use in-app payments to charge you for special items or to unlock features or levels. In Underground, you will find 100% free versions of popular premium titles like OfficeSuite Professional 8, Goat Simulator, and PhotoSuite 4 and popular titles with in-app purchases like Frozen Free Fall, Star Wars Rebels: Recon Missions, Angry Birds Slingshot Stella, Looney Tunes Dash! and many more.
We’ve made this possible by working out a new business model with app and game developers: we’re paying them a certain amount on a per-minute played basis in exchange for them waiving their normal in-app fees. To be clear, we’re the ones picking up those per minute charges -- so for you it’s simply free. Just look for apps and games marked with an "Actually Free" banner.
Normally you’d go to Google Play to download an Android app onto your phone. But Google’s rules don’t allow an app that offers apps or games to be included in Google Play. So, you need to download the Underground app directly from Amazon.com.
(Underground apps and games are automatically available on Fire HD and Fire HDX tablets.)
One last point on this. The Amazon Underground app is a long-term program rather than a one-off promotion. Over time, we’ll continue to invent and add more benefits to Underground. For now, enjoy some actually free apps and games!'
This is quite a challenge to Google Play!
Amazon adds, on their Amazon Underground webpage that there are two ways to Get the Amazon Underground App.
Visit amazon.com/underground from your Android Phone
Enter your email or mobile number to receive a link to download
NOTE: After posting this so you can see this sooner, I'll add any interesting aspects I become aware of that are not covered here, so bookmark this blog entry for more information as it goes.
Mainstream tech sites are still exploring what this actually means for customers and for developers both and Amazon is being more open on how they've been able to offer this and what the details are that encouraged developers to allow offering the apps for free and what those incentives are. One factor is that developers found that customers are not eager to pay at each new level reached.
' More recently, and far more dramatically [than with Apple's recent Pay Once and Play], Amazon introduced Underground, an Android app that contains a huge number of traditionally paid or freemium apps that will cost its users absolutely nothing to use ...
' "For many customers we were hearing that sometimes it’s frustrating when you’re involved in a game and have to stop and make a transaction,” says Amazon Appstore director Aaaron Rubenson. “What we realized is that a model like the one we rolled out in Underground, where customers can simply download and use all of the features of a given app, or explore a game without having to worry about transactions in the middle… would be wonderful for customers.”
' “In general, the industry has to think about how to innovate on the business model.”
' Which brings us back to Amazon Underground, the most aggressive innovation of that sort you’re likely to see.
' ... It’s also why, while Amazon footing the bill for both its customers and developers is a genuine win-win, it’s not no-brainer. It’s also not a model you’re likely to see anyone else replicate any time soon. '
That Wired article is a long, analytical look at this. Read the rest here.
AndroidPolice has detail on how developers will be paid by Amazon.
' ... the gist of it is that developers will be paid 1 penny for every 5 minutes an Underground customer is using their app.
'For some, this could work out really well on the development side of things. It's not out of the question for certain types of games to have individual users reach 100 hours of gameplay, which would make you $12 on one person. Amazon's example is getting users for 4 hours per month, netting a developer roughly $0.50 per user each month until they quit using the app. There will probably be some big winners here since they won't ever stop making money from the people using their app.
'Still, users who play a freemium game that much are also those most likely to splurge on big IAPs [In-App Purchases]. The question some developers have to answer is whether Underground will attract the huge spenders that their app may depend on, cutting off major sources of income, or if it will instead only bring on users who would never pay '
That article cites Ars Technica's report that, for Amazon's part (how do they not lose money on this?), the Underground apps are heavily ad-supported. If an app proves more popular than before, might Amazon offer a No-Ads version? That latter would be beneficial to developers who see smaller profits from the new opt-in system.
Another article by AndroidPolice reported a confirmation by Amazon (though I thought the announcement was clear) that apps marked "Actually Free" will have zero in-app purchases involved.
' In the game that I tested, Jetpack Joyride, the IAP items I was used to seeing had all their prices marked as zero, and processing them through Amazon resulted in a "$0.00" charge to my account. Neat.'
I'll keep watching the user response to this and the program in general and will update here if I see anything of special interest. It's a very creative move by Amazon.
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