Amazon Offers Developer Incentives to Boost App Ecosystem

by Matt Klassen on October 11, 2013

Following the downfall of Blackberry and the ongoing struggles of Microsoft in the mobile market, one thing has become abundantly clear to fellow mobile backbencher Amazon, a thriving app ecosystem is essential to compete with the incumbents. To that end, Amazon unveiled an incentive program earlier this week, designed to attract top level third party app developers, the company said.

Called “Appstore Developer Select,” the program offers incentives such as promotional advertising boosts and ecommerce discounts to those developers who optimize their apps or games for Amazon’s AppStore and the Fire OS mobile operating system that powers the Kindle Fire.

But optimize is certainly the key word here, as Amazon doesn’t want cross-platform apps to simply work on its mobile platform, but to operate natively, meaning they need to be redesigned for Amazon’s AppStore to render in HD and to span the entire screen of the Kindle Fire without stretching or distortion. Now we’ll see if anyone takes the bait.

“Mobile app developers have told us that getting their apps discovered across the numerous devices customers are using is one of their biggest challenges,” said Mike George, vice president of Amazon Appstore, games andCloud Drive. “With the Appstore Developer Select program, we’re addressing these discoverability concerns by providing developers with enhanced merchandising opportunities.”

The makers of the mobile apps that do qualify for this program will receive several types of rewards from Amazon, including 500,000 free mobile ad impressions across Amazon’s entire mobile ad network, and 25 percent credit back on purchases of Amazon Web Services products, to a maximum of US$500 per year. Certain qualifying developers will also receive the chance to award first-time purchasers of their paid apps with 250 Amazon Coins, the company’s virtual currency that allows users to buy apps without a credit card.

There’s no question that a company’s app ecosystem is essential to any success in today’s mobile world. If Amazon isn’t able to compete with Android and iOS on a software level, it doesn’t matter how well the rest of Amazon’s retail world fits together with its mobile strategy, it won’t ever achieve noteworthy success.

But we’ve seen such incentives from mobile backbenchers before, notably with Samsung’s new Tizen operating system where developers were offered cold hard cash as incentive to program for that platform, and the jury is still out on how successful that strategy has been.

That said, Amazon is uniquely situated in the mobile market and has, for some time now, been my pick to be the much sought after third player in the mobile world. It has the retail footprint, it has the AppStore, now it just needs to get the word out to developers that its platform is worth their time and effort; I guess we’ll see who listens.

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