Not happy, Amazon: Aussie developer slams app store

Australian development firm Shifty Jelly has delivered harsh words to Amazon over the company’s relatively new Android Appstore and its Free App Of The Day promotion.

South Australian-based development firm Shifty Jelly soared to success when it launched one of the first Australian weather apps for Apple’s iOS platform, Pocket Weather in 2009. Since then it has launched a number of other weather-focused applications both on Apple’s iOS platform as well as for Google’s up-and-coming Android system.

In January, the company launched their own first non-weather application, Pocket Casts, that allows users to manage and listen to podcast subscriptions on an iOS device. Three months ago the company decided to try selling the Pocket Casts app through Amazon’s new Android Appstore set to rival Google’s own Android Market as part of a “little experiment.”

In a lengthy post this morning, the company explains that it was all smooth sailing, until Amazon asked the company for permission to use Pocket Casts for Android in their Free App Of The Day promotion that sees one app from the Amazon market given away each day.

Amazon publicly states that despite the app being made free, developers still receive a 20% cut of what they would have earnt had people been forced to pay for the app. However according to Shifty Jelly, this is far from what really eventuates. “Here’s the dirty secret Amazon don’t want you to know, they don’t pay developers a single cent,” Shifty Jelly said, before pasting an excerpt from an Amazon email which confirms that “the current price of this placement [Free App Of The Day] is at 0% rev share for that one day you are placed.”

After much internal debate the company eventually accepted Amazon’s offer, which according to Shifty Jelly, resulted in nearly 101,500 users downloading the Android edition of the Pocket Casts app on their featured day. Had the 20% cut been available this would have provided them with a respectable $54,000.

Instead though, the company has been left with a vast amount of unpaid users and has been forced to bring online new hardware at their own cost to deal with the sudden increase in usage as the Pocket Casts app relies on a server to update it.

Even Amazon’s claims of “tremendous results” in terms of “positive reviews and traffic” turned out to be untrue, according to Shifty Jelly, who say that after the day of promotion, they “saw a blip in sales, followed by things going back to exactly where we started, selling a few apps a day.”

“We can see the counter argument here, that we agreed to Amazon’s terms, even if they were underhanded and secret, so we deserve everything we got. Perhaps. I guess it’s just lucky for us that this was an experiment, and that we don’t make our full-time income from selling Android apps, but rather from developing for iOS,” a Shifty Jelly representative wrote.

Since then, the company has now removed Pocket Casts from Amazon’s store, and is redirecting customers to Google’s Android Market which they say allows them to “make a stand” against Amazon. “To anyone who paid for our app in the Amazon Store (yes all 200 or so of you!), we apologise for the inconvenience.” Refunds will be provided to those who purchased the app through the Amazon Store and now wish to purchase it from the Google Market.

Amazon’s Appstore for Android is available at this stage only in the United States.

Image credit: Amazon


  1. “that we agreed to Amazon’s terms”

    Indeed. Seriously developers need to stop being so naive in the hope of making a quick buck especially when dealing with faceless corporates like Amazon.

  2. I am by no means an Android fan (WP7 FTW!), but being able to move your apps from one market place to another is a massive check box for the platfrom.

    In the trade we call it a USP.

    And for what it’s worth I had a “me=small guy, you=Amazon” experience a few weeks back and they were unbelievably helpful. The sooner they ditch the US Centric stuff the better though.

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