Amazon bugs persist for Aussie Android dev


news Australian development firm Shifty Jelly has delivered another embarassing backhander to global technology giant Amazon over the company’s handling of its Android applications store, listing a litany of bugs and customer service issues regarding the platform.

The South Australian-based company 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.

However, it ran into problems when it recently launched its Pocket Casts app on Amazon’s new Android app store, complaining several weeks ago about poor results from a free app promotion which Amazon ran regarding the application. Today, Shifty Jelly published a blog post updating customers further about its interaction with Amazon, noting it had received significant press coverage supporting its move to “expose” Amazon’s practices. However, it appears Amazon hasn’t taken noticed of its very public complaints.

“A lot of people have also asked what the official response from Amazon has been. So far, nothing,” the company wrote.

However, when Shifty Jelly requested Amazon remove Pocket Casts from its app store, the developer received a most unusual response, with Amazon also requesting the developer confirm the app would also be removed from any other Android application store which operated in the US.

“That’s right, they responded asking us to remove our application from the Google Market, and then they would let us know how they would proceed,” wrote Shity Jelly. “Needless to say that creeped us out a bit, but again it’s a case of read the developer agreement (every last page of it) before signing up. Easy to say in retrospect, but admit it, how many developers out there read every single one Apple/Google send out to them before clicking ‘I Agree’?”

The developer then requested its developer agreement with Amazon be terminated. A week later, it was, but Shifty Jelly is unclear what this means — with the developer retaining the ability to log into Amazon’s administration control panel for developers, and the Pocket Casts app listed in a “suppressed” state.

“If that means new people can’t buy it, but people that have it currently can update to the latest version, then we’re all for that,” the developer wrote. “If, on the other hand it means one day they can just start selling it again, well you’d hope not, but at this stage nothing would surprise us.”

Following the termination of its agreement, Shifty Jelly received a cheque from Amazon for $700 for its app sales, addressed to “RUSSELL RUSSELL” — which appeared to be a clerical error.
Shifty Jelly joked in its blog post that it would like to think Amazon had issued it a cheque which it couldn’t actuallly bank “as a final act of defiance, to show who The Boss really is”.

“Sorry Jeff, want to hug and make up?” the developer asked, referring to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos

It definitely sounds like Amazon has a great deal of work to do to bring its processes for dealing with developers up to speed — it sounds like the US company probably did as much here wrong as it possibly could have.

However, it also remains true that it’s never precisely been easy dealing with rival app stores operated by companies like Apple, and with development companies numbering at least in the tens of thousands, and likely in the hundreds of thousands, it is always going to be hard for centralised marketplaces like Amazon to provide a good service for all. Let’s hope the company takes note of this feisty Australian story and kicks its efforts into gear — and that these sorts of problems don’t become the norm.

Image credit: Vodafone