Android Alterate Market Review: Amazon Appstore

Amazon Appstore for AndroidYou’re probably already aware of the Amazon Appstore market for Android apps, and its potential to earn you money.  Still, I’d like to introduce it quickly for those who aren’t familiar with it or why they should be putting their Android apps in this market.

Update:  Also check out my success story in ranking #1 in the Amazon Appstore.

“Another” App Market

When rumors flew around that Amazon was going into the fray with their own app market, there were a lot of opinions on the subject.  There were already a lot of alternate markets for Android apps, and this was certainly going to fragment the market further.

Android’s market ecosystem has one particular strength over the iPhone Appstore, however:  competition. Each awesome new feature any market puts out causes the others to work harder to continue the arms race.  We’ve seen a lot of new app store features come out over the last year, so I tend to be excited to hear about new app markets, particularly when they’re from serious players.

Surprise Entrance

Amazon didn’t share much information about the launch dates of the Appstore, but opened the developer site for all to use.  Since the $99 yearly fee was waived for the first year, there wasn’t any penalty to throwing your app into the fray.

In fact, it was good to get in early, since it helped get beyond the initial rejection cycle if you made the same mistake I did – linking to the Android Market anywhere in your app.  Once I got my app accepted, I mostly forgot about it.  I expected for there to be some ramp-up before the actual launch.

Angry Birds RioAnd then, suddenly, Amazon launched the Appstore on March 22, 2011.  The Angry Birds Rio giveaway got lots of attention, and suddenly it was too late to get your app in before the rush!  Don’t worry though – the rush has passed and things are running smoothly.  And to be fair, Amazon did call for app updates to be submitted a few days before the launch, they just didn’t tell you why they were calling for updates.

And if you haven’t already done so, set your account up to get the daily paid app for free.  Amazon gives away one paid app for free, and it’s a different one every day.

Primary Features of the Amazon Appstore

1. The Amazon Appstore reviews every app before it is released, so customers can have more confidence that the app is safe.

While the review time was long right at release, it has gotten better.  In fact, the latest update for Droid Secret Tips Pro took less than 24 hours.  It might be longer than that for your first release though, so be patient!

The review of apps is a good thing.  One complaint app developers have about the Android Market is that without review, a lot of junk pollutes the market.  Malware is another concern people have expressed.  The individual review by the Amazon team actually will hopefully weed out the worthless apps, and can result in additional notes added to your app description, which can be helpful.

2. You set the list price, but Amazon sets the app’s sales price

While you set the list price (the lowest price you’ve sold the app for anywhere), Amazon gets to decide the sales price.  You will be paid either 70% or the sales price, or 20% of the list price (whichever is higher).

This is most likely to come into play if you are the free app of the day – you’ll get a huge number of free downloads, which will net you 20% of the list price.  Remember – while you’re getting less per sale you’re earning more in the long run due to the massive number of downloads that the free app of the day gets.

3. All apps must link through Amazon app store

Amazon Appstore RejectionThis one is important to pay attention to. Before the Appstore was opened my approved app still had a link to the Android Market.  When this was discovered, my app was pulled until my updated (and Amazon-specific) .apk was approved.  I missed some days of availability until they approved my app again. Be SURE that your app only links to the Amazon Appstore before submitting, and save yourself some hassle.

4.The Amazon Appstore is very visually oriented

More than for the main Android Market, I found that improving my icon increased downloads.  The first thing that most users see is the top 100 list, which shows the app icons all together.  While app users in general will be attracted to apps with better graphics and icons, I noticed the effect more here than on the Android Market.  This could just be my experience, though.

5. Payout is monthly when balance > $10 (in US)

Like everyone else, I’d like to see my money sooner rather than later.  While the payout is not as well done as for the Android Market, the payout threshold isn’t too bad.  If you earn more than $10 during the month, a payout will be triggered.  However, payout may not occur for up to 30 days after the end of the month.

Among app markets that I’ve looked at, this is on the better end.  While there are app stores that promise instant payment, they don’t have the traffic that Amazon has.  I can wait a month if it means a much larger payment – I’m in this for the long haul!

6. The Appstore is US-Only for now

Nobody likes to be left out, but unfortunately the Appstore is only available in the United States at the time of this writing (May 2011).  However, like the Android market I expect that this will change.  When this happens there will be a surge of new customers, getting your app even more traffic.

Also, AT&T customers can’t currently download apps from the Amazon Appstore, but since Amazon is working on it you can be sure that it will happen. Many customers have taken direct measures and modified their rooted phones to give them access now.

7. App Stats are available in the developer console

Droid Secret Tips - Amazon Downloads

After you log in to your developer account, Amazon will show you the daily download counts of your apps by whatever date you choose.  This is much more detail than other markets show by default, so this is welcome data.


I fully recommend joining the Amazon Appstore as a developer (free for the first year) and releasing your app.  While there are a few extra steps and a few different assets (graphics and text) that you’ll need, it won’t be too much work.

If you want more information on the Amazon Appstore and all of the app stores you can release your app on, be sure to check out the Android Market Alternatives report.

Posted in Android Markets permalink

About ProjectJourneyman

I am a software engineer that escaped the cubicle world at a large company to go solo with Android app development. My attention to detail and quality applies both to my apps and to my research on how to make money with Android. Now that I have the freedom to work on my own projects, I am documenting my efforts in the hopes that it will help other current or aspiring independent Android developers get the income they desire.


Android Alterate Market Review: Amazon Appstore — 5 Comments

  1. Anyone have much success with the Amazon app store? Compared to Android Market, my downloads have been dismal – around 1% of Android Market downloads.

    • I saw zero sales on Amazon until I updated my icon to be more appealing. Now, my sales are close to those on the main Market. This may be unique to my app (which doesn’t have insane download rates on the main market, so it was easier for Amazon to catch up), and there are probably other changes that I made that helped. However, I think there are enough variables to work on that it’s not time to give up on Amazon yet. Can anyone else share their experiences?

      • Well my free app gets around 100/day on Android Market, and maybe 1/day on the Amazon Appstore. The icon is the same. Downloads have actually declined on Amazon in the last couple of months, yet increased in Android Market.

        So you’re saying you get the same download rate in each appstore?

        • My free app gets about the same number of average downloads, but being in the top 100 listing probably helps it a lot. However, my downloads dipped a lot before I updated my icon. My Amazon downloads rose and my Android Market downloads didn’t really change at that time, leading me to believe that the Amazon market is more visually based (it could just be my app though). Perhaps a radically different strategy is needed for the Amazon Appstore – different visuals, different description, using a video, etc.

          Of course, it could just be that different markets serve different demographics. There are so many variables that it’s very hard to track.

          Thanks for sharing. Hopefully a way can be found to get your Amazon downloads back to a healthy rate.

  2. I recently blogged about this, and the article was on AndroidAndMe earlier today. My experience has been similar to MarkB’s – overall pretty poor.

    And thanks for talking about the business side of things, yours is one of the few Android developer blogs I’ve found that covers this topic 🙂