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About that ‘Amazon Appstore is Rotten to the Core’ Story…

As our inbox indicates, many of you have read the story from Shifty Jelly (SJ) about their rotten experience with the Amazon Appstore and how they feel completely ripped off after joining the Free App of the Day program.  If you haven’t, I’ll try and recap in the briefest of ways.  (I tried to make it brief, but it’s turned into a book.)

Shift Jelly decided to inquire about Amazon’s Free App of the Day program, hoping to launch their app into the spotlight.  When they heard back from Amazon, everything was lining up, except for a single line in a return email that made it more-than-clear that they would not be receiving any money on the day that their app was featured as free.  In fact, in bold it said, “The current price of this placement is at 0% rev share for that one day you are placed.”  So for that one day, Shift Jelly’s app would not make any money no matter how many copies were downloaded.  You all with me?

Wondering why they would not receive the 20% that was included in the original developer agreement, SJ responded back asking to receive what they had originally agreed to.  Amazon fired back saying that since they would not receive money, neither would SJ, but that with the “highly valuable” front page placement for the following 14 days, they would certainly make a ton of money.

So to recap quickly, we have the following:   1.  Amazon told them in bold (more than once) that they would receive nothing.  2.  SJ asked for 20% and Amazon responded again telling them that they would receive nothing except prime placement on their front page for 14 days.

What did SJ decide?  To go forward with it, knowing that they would make nothing on the day that their app was free.  

When the day came that their app was featured, 101,491 people downloaded their app. And just as they agreed to, received nothing in exchange except a prime spot on Amazon’s page for the next two weeks.  So what’s all this “rotten” fuss about?  We’re still trying to figure that out.

We’re thinking the shock of seeing that his app normally would have made $54,805 had he been paid for those 101K downloads was what got this all started.  Sure, that number is jaw-dropping as hell, but when you agree to not receive anything, how can you get that mad?  In a world of sales that’s built on negotiations, I’m just wondering what the hell this guy was thinking.

And alongside this revelation that he would not receive any amount of that $54K, he also now had to invest money into more servers for his app since he now had over 100,000 people using it.  So not only did he receive nothing but a bunch of downloads, he also now has extra costs thanks to this promo.

But what about his 14-day prime placement?  Didn’t that kick start the money-making engine and even all of this out?  Apparently not.  Since his day as the free app, his download numbers haven’t been impressive, leading again, to this “rotten” post that is making its way all over the internet.

I’ll just end this with a couple of thoughts.  Anyone ever heard of Groupon?  They do something in a similar fashion.  When you are featured as their deal of the day, they initially try to get you to absorb all of the cost of whatever the deal is.  What I mean by that is, let’s say they sell coupons for $10 worth of goods at your store, but only charge $5 for it.  Ok, so Groupon will approach you asking for all $5 (or 100%, or 0% rev share to you), but tell you that with all of the new customers headed your way, along with the fact that people normally spend more than the $10, you will come out on top in the end.  Smart business owners examine the heck out of that deal and then re-negotiate at least some sort of revenue sharing because they realize that they can’t absorb that huge of a hit.

So in the case of Shift Jelly, I’m just wondering again, what the hell were they thinking?  Sure, the developer’s agreement stated 20%, but when Amazon insisted that they were going to receive 0%, why not turn the deal down?  Wouldn’t you already know that you would be taking a huge hit and also putting your server structure under a lot of stress?  If you couldn’t at least get 5-10% and have Amazon meet you in the middle, why not walk away?

Now, with that rant over, I’ll just say that this isn’t the first time we have heard bad things about the Amazon Appstore.  They price your apps however they want, won’t let you remove them, update them slower than molasses, and basically own you if you have an app placed with them.  So while I feel bad that SJ feels like they got ripped off, we can at least use this as an educational piece for future developers who are looking to be the Free App of the Day.  Just like Groupon and other coupon sites, giving your products away for nothing isn’t always a winning situation.

You can read the entire story from this developer at their  Shift Jelly blog.

Cheers to everyone who sent this in!

  • No matter what the free app of the day is I get it & iff I feel the need to pay for one I use the convienace of the android market!

  • William Holmes

    I have to admit, when it comes to the free app of the day, I’ll download it just because it is free. I must have a dozen apps that I have never installed simply because they are offered for free.

    If I ever do take a trip out of town, I have at least 6 brand new games to download and play on the road. Sure 101k downloads sounds awsome, but how many other people do as I do, and download them just because they can?

    Big difference between downloading and using. . .

  • Anonymous

     If you get an app on amazon  it’s shows up in the market place ..  can you get the update that way senses it seems amazon is a little slow  with updates ??

  • xxfooln

    Everyone is missing the real point.  Amazon told SJ it would make lots of additional sales as a result of participating.  The data for others isn’t public as far as I know, but Amazon certainly has a good idea whether SJ’s experience is common.  It’s reasonable to suspect that most have a similar experience to SJ, large companies perhaps excepted.  Amazon is entitled to “puff” the virtues of its service, but not to misrepresent facts.  Of course, there is no clear line between the two, and the initial contract between Amazon and SJ probably disclaims any reliance on such representations.  On the other hand, the Free App of the Day transaction seems to be outside the scope the initial contract with Amazon and may be limited to whatever was agreed in the exchange of emails between Amazon and SJ.  Since the facts aren’t known, it’s hard to say much definite about SJ’s situation.

    The point for developers is that they need to have data so they can judge whether there is any substantial prospect of generating future sales and should be pressing Amazon to disclose data to developers.  Otherwise, the Free App of the Day may simply be a way for Amazon to increase its web traffic and Android presence – with developers bearing most of the cost for Amazon and getting little in return. 

  • Anonymous

    Haven’t read the comments, but my take is bad app.  If it was good enough, the free downloads would lead to good word of mouth, would lead to $$.  If it’s too good to be free, they would not have asked to be the ‘free app.’

  • lilmike109

    SJ’s math is a little shaky seeing as that hardly anyone would’ve downloaded his app if it wasn’t the Free App of the Day.  Besides, 20% of $0 is $0.  Perhaps instead of complaining, SJ could’ve generated revenue from other streams due to the increased traffic (ad revenue?)…  Doesn’t sound like a raw deal at all to me.  Sounds like free publicity.

  • Im confused… isnt 20% of $0 still nothing? 

    If you dont want to sell your app for nothing dont expect amazon to subsidize your  “loss”- they didn’t make anything either, and clearly the app was not the next angry birds.  

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  • Rizzidy

    Maybe they should hire someone with a little actual experience to handle the business decisions.  These idiots should have known exactly what they were getting into.  They get no sympathy from me.

  • I use the AMZ AppStore and have absolutely no issues with it

  • AndroFan

    It’s amazing what an apologist and mouthpiece you’ve become for the big institutional names in Android.  The fact that you find it ludicrous that he’d be critical of this, and still be outraged even after agreeing to it is pretty telling.  Displeasure, discourse, and venting frustration over getting screwed in a bad deal are not bad words, and you mince no words in lambasting Apple for screwing over its developers/users when it occurs, but you won’t think a second thought about defending Android big guns for doing the same.  Methinks your repuation as a hypebeast is well deserved. 

  • my mind is blown why anyone would use any keyboard other than Flext9
    great swiping 
    better than google voice to text
    the other stuff is fluff but it can do more like drawing

  • When I was getting the apps for free I was under the impression that the developer was getting something out of this. So I would buy some apps from amazon to compensate them for the money they where giving back to the developers. Now it seems like theft, why should I have loyalty to amazon when they have none to the developers.

    • Amazons model works for me.   I take the free app…use it…and if i like it there are several people (friends and family) that will buy a cool app that i’ve shown them.  flext9 is a good example.  sure i got it for free.  but because of my recommendation several people bought it in full that would have never heard of or have seen it otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    This is a bad deal gone bad

  • I just paid $22.87 for an iPad 2 (64 GB) and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $674 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, CentHub.com

  • FknTwizted

    wasnt swiftkey trying to hook up with a manufacture like swype?  I thought this was a way to get people using this so that someone like lg, htc, motorola etc would see this as a competitor to swype and start buying it in bulk???  2nd you should have known you were going to get a bunch of downloads and you didnt prepare for it?  sounds like someone is trying to get their cake and eat it too, and then cry when they werent ready for this kind of influkes for users.  Sorry dont feel bad for this dev. only to the fact they knew the deal they didnt have to sign, but then again as they say in the marketing biz good, bad adveritising is still advertising =0)

  • Steveo

    Mt concern is far more than 1 guy who made a bad deal.  If it is true that Amazon apps all phone home AND won’t run without connectivity AND won’t run if Amazon App is uninstalled AND can be pulled by Amazon at any point … I don’t think I want those apps.

  • Guest

    20% of $0 is $0

  • I really don’t feel sorry for him. he knew exactly what he was getting into. If he didn’t have the marketing budget to swallow for this kind of a program, then he should not have done it. It only proves that if he had a lower price point or a free version of his app (ad supported), then he could make a heck of lot more money.

    I also love the mention of Groupon in this article. Perfect case in point on knowing what you are getting yourself in to.  Thanks Kellex bringing this article to everyone’s attention setting the story straight.

  • Unexpected62

    I haven’t the slightest idea why anyone would go to the amazon app store instead of the Google marketplace anyway. I think that the Amazon app store is literally ruining Android, and I think Google should ban it. Sure, thats all we need, everyone launching there own market to take a 30% cut from developers….. 

  • TheAndroid1

    I think the bigger problem was that Amazon forcibly moved the price of their app down to .99 without their permission.  Amazon modified the description of their app and various other things.

    The company needs to realize that the ONLY reason they got that many downloads is because it was free.  I can’t tell you how many times I go to Amazon to buy a free app but never install it, just in case I ever want to use it.  This doesn’t mean that they have a good app that everyone wants, it just means that people knew it was free so decided to pick it up.  I would guess that over 50% never opened the app and 90% never opened it twice.

    • I can vouch for this. I do the same thing.. snag the freebee and then “maybe” install it, then “maybe” use is a couple times. I mostly grab the apps just in case they turn out to be something awesome and I can download/install it later for free.

  • Michael Quinlan

    I don’t even see why Amazon needed to clarify here, changing the 20% to 0% for a day.  The app was FREE for a day; 20% of ZERO is ZERO.

    The developer also claims that “people were hailing [The Amazon App Store] as the solution to the problems with the Google Market”, as if there was no negative reaction to Amazon’s planned App Store.  I have no use for the Amazon App Store, even for the free app of the day.  The last thing my OG Droid needs is another app installed/running just to make sure that the other apps are properly authorized.  In fact, I have no use for Amazon at all.

    Regardless of whether the developer should have known better or not, I’m glad to see stories like this get some attention, pointing out problems so that others can avoid them.

  • Michael Quinlan

    I don’t even see why Amazon needed to clarify here, changing the 20% to 0% for a day.  The app was FREE for a day; 20% of ZERO is ZERO.

    The developer also claims that “people were hailing [The Amazon App Store] as the solution to the problems with the Google Market”, as if there was no negative reaction to Amazon’s planned App Store.  I have no use for the Amazon App Store, even for the free app of the day.  The last thing my OG Droid needs is another app installed/running just to make sure that the other apps are properly authorized.  In fact, I have no use for Amazon at all.

    Regardless of whether the developer should have known better or not, I’m glad to see stories like this get some attention, pointing out problems so that others can avoid them.

  • So why are app developers signing up for this – Exposure I would think would be the main reason or else there is no gain from it. 

  • I have no idea who SJ is, but it’s obvious that he is an incompetent douche with no sense of how to run a business.  I hope even less people purchase his app after reading this story.

  • Anonymous

    Well said Kellex.  Well said.

  • Anonymous

    Well from the sound of the blog post, everyone is feeling sorry for them screwing themselves on a deal with Amazon and buying the app.  Looks like they’re making up some lost revenue now. 

    Marketing a promotion usually entails a loss of the usual revenue.  I have done free promo’s in my business, but typically avoid them because of the double whammy effect seen with these guys.  It’s a joke to expect that you ask Amazon to feature you (not Amazon asking you) and your revenue should go from up to $40/day to suddenly make $50K.  If that were the case, I’ll make some crap app, list it at $5, do the free promo, and sit back and get $50K.  The idea of making that kind of money off an app hardly anyone is paying for normally is ludicrous!

    Sorry, Shift Jelly, but you’re in the wrong on this one.  You got the promo, you got your name out there that otherwise no one cared much about, and now with your boo-hooing, you got people buying your app just because you cried so much.  I for one like the free apps (though rarely use them) and will continue paying for the apps I have a genuine interest in, and will also continue getting the free app of the day even if I don’t care much for it.  FTW, I actually didn’t download the PocketCast because I really didn’t have even a remote interest in it…and the OG Droid was having issues with it according to reviews.

  • RonsterWVU

    Kellex, I completely agree with you.

    All I feel this is doing is becoming a major marketing ploy by SJ. 
    I went to his app in the Android Market, and saw hundred of reviews stating: 
    “I unlike the 101k others actually am going to pay for this App”

    I would like to see his revenue since he posted that article…. But his tune is completely different. 

  • James Messick

    As a reader of the story I did find myself asking why SJ was complaining. I also shook my head to learn that the developer has no control over setting the price of their app. Is this right? OTOH, as a downloader of PocketCast I found myself really liking the product and had been thinking about making a donation to SJ. Now I’ll just re-purchase the product from the Android Marketplace the next time a new version is released. I imagine a lot of the other “freeloaders” will, as well, and maybe SJ will feel a little better. I hope so, because it really is the best product for podcasts that I’ve found and they do seem like a good bunch. Or less than a bunch, perhaps.

  • 20% of nothing is nothing.. whats the problem? is it really this difficult

    • you get nothing .. zilch na da.. good day sir.

    • The normal amazon agreement says you get 70% of the sale price for 20% of the list price whichever is greater.  However, for the Free App of the Day Promotion there is a secondary agreement that says you don’t get paid anything and if you don’t agree to it you can’t be the Free App of the Day.  

      It’s a lot of boohoo by a company that really should have known better.  I can see the promotion working well for games but not for anybody who has tangible costs per user.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, the only thing he got was free publicity, but what’s the point when you get nothing for it? Ouch!

  • Alex Bonte

    This is indeed pretty ridiculous. And I think it’s even simpler than Kellex makes it out to be: 20% of a free app is still nothing. If the issue though is that he wouldn’t get his 20% even after the app was back to costing money, that would be a bit ridiculous. 

    But still, 20% of zero is zero.

  • Anonymous

    And do you really think 101,491 people would really have downloaded the app if it WASN’T free?
    They might have have been lucky to get 5% of that number over a couple weeks.

    • All those customers add is word of mouth (which is minimal when it comes to a podcast app) and a hell of a lot in terms of new hardware costs on the developer’s end.

    • jefbystereo

      Agree 100%.  I looked at my amazon app purchases, and it turns out I downloaded their app.  But it took me looking it up to know that…. 
      Ive never even installed it, and certainly would have never purchased it if it was full price since I have no need for it.

  • Anonymous

    best thing amazon app store has done is get at&t to enable sideloading

  • Anonymous

    If I were an app developer, I see this as a powerful way to get my name out there. Not every developer has the polish of zynga, and not many people know how to develop something as technical as kouschs bootstrap. Any good business will tell you that there are times you may need to run at a loss to build market share.

    7/11/2011 marked the store 7-11s anniversary. On the day of the anniversary, they gave away 7.11 ounce frosties for free. On th day of the free Frosties, they “sold” more Frosties than any day of the year. Why? They claim the smaller free cup gets people craving more and while anyone will take a free one, many people that would never buy a frosty wind up leaving with a 32ounce.

    When something is good, people will pay for it even past a freebie promotion. I have used bootstrap so much, I will be willing to pay $10 for the next version if need be.

    • Johnluylk

      frostie?? you mean slurpie…. frosties are from wendys

      • Anonymous

        Oops.. My Bad. You are totally right.

  • After reading their blog and the comments, it looks like these are some Apple fanboys that were just trying to make a mountain out of a molehill regarding the Amazon App store.  

    Something tells me that the developers who are making apps good enough that people will buy them even when they are NOT free aren’t having this hissy fit.  

    These guys should try to make better apps instead of whining.

    *yawn*

    • Thanks, McCarthy. I’m glad you’re here to run the Apple fanboy witch trials for us.

  • I rarely used the Appstore, but this whole thing just made me delete it completely and just buy the few apps I did have on the market. At least there they actually get updated. 

  • Anonymous

    Shift Jelly KNEW what the terms were before going in….their behavior is just PENTILE!

  • The problem is that Amazon claims that the developer is going to get large, sustained downloads from being featured on the front page, which the developer states is simply false. Additionally, now the developer has to pay for the servers and maintenance that is associated with these 100,000 new users that didn’t pay a cent.

    Basically the claim is false advertising on Amazon’s part and lack of transparency. And I agree. It’s wrong to mislead developers into thinking they will be seeing higher adoption rates than reality.

    • Anonymous

      Perhaps but developers have the duty to research the deal and the marketplace before entering into such an agreement.  If the proposal is unrealistic, the developer needs to discover or realize that and work out some deal points to his favor.

      As far as server capacity, if the dev was expecting this to be a dynamite promotion, why wouldn’t he have ramped up capacity to begin with??  That error rests solely on the developer.  If he couldn’t accommodate the server load, he should have negotiated a maximum number of free downloads (which Amazon probably wouldn’t have agreed to).

      • The problem is the NDA which says developers CAN’T talk about it. So there is no information to go from on benefits of the promotion.

        It doesn’t matter when he updated capacity. The fact of the matter is that capacity costs a lot in terms of hardware and the number of free giveaways didn’t justify that, and they didn’t get the sales boost post-free day that Amazon promised.

    • S Pierce

      Wow, Amazon was acting in their interest trying to sell something “a promotion” to their “customer” (a dev in this case).  For your sake I hope you don’t believe everything a sales person tells you.

  • Anonymous

    This tactic by Amazon goes way beyond their App store. Anything that any vendor wishes to sell on Amazon.com is subject to the same sales approach. SJ made a poor business decision in hindsight. Hopefully it is a lesson learned.

  • First and foremost, as a young aspiring entrepreneur, this company should NOT place the blame on Amazon and solely on themselves. As a business owner/operator, it is ESSENTIAL you do background information, and actually STUDY the market that you are hoping to sell your product in. The developer should have did more research on how exactly Amazon works, discuss more with the seller and own up to any mistakes that are made on their part. The developer could have easily done more research on successfully selling and marketing their app, they should have looked at all the positives and negatives of selling their app on the app store and also took into account the added exposure and server load they were going to receive for listing their app for free. Why should Amazon pay YOU for receiving free promotion and exposure on the front of their app store while they take the hit? It doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint from Amazon, and the developer should have recognized this immediately.

    • Anonymous

      not that i completely agree w SJ on the matter since he did agree w amazon, but theyre coders, technical artists, and apparently not a very good accountant or businessman to realize the decision was a very bad one before it was made. Amazon on the other hand, being all about business & very good at it, very likely suckered them in w noncontractual promises of continued success post-FAOTD as if it were practically a guaranteed norm. When post-FAOTD turned out to absolutely worthless to them quite contrary to everything Amazon boasted (& probably knew was a rare unlikely result of being featured), he’s understandably upset. Sure, if they were smarter, perhaps a compromise like during the featured 14days, if his app continues to sell x amt, then he’ll take 0% revenue, if it falls short, then amazon owes him 10%, something like that, but that’s easy to say now w hindsite.

      you say as if SJ is the only one to benefit from this FAOTD. It sounds like amazon approached SJ w the FreeApp offer, so his app was recognized as something that can promote the use of the Amazon AppStore. If it weren’t for FOATD, the appstore would probably be something completely different & barely used. Instead, Amazon gets 101K addtnl hits from users, those 101K users each have 1 more reason to not ditch the appstore (like i did after that first AngryBirdsRio promo), & w a stronger consumer base, this gives amazon more power to draw in more developers & demand more from developers.

      Ultimately in this deal, Amazon won it all at the gullible developers expense w probably some very intentional deceptive suggestions of success. But SJ didnt sign for any post guarantees, he trusted what wasnt contracted but heavily implied.. and oh how everybody just loves to quote contract, disregarding that there’s always human emotional elements involved in these transactions, & Amazon’s staff of expensive experience knows how to manipulate those emotions.

      It’s a business lesson learned for SJ & Team, but it doesnt make Amazon innocent.
      & I definitely support clearer transparency for what’s really going on. It’s not fair for Amazon to absolutely declare & present their FOATD model to the public while doing the opposite behind closed doors. I just hope SJ&Crew dont get sued for revealing this info, since technically, Amazon DID say these backdoor deals are not to be made public.

  • I just assumed when an app is being offerred for free that the developer wouldn’t be making any money. That’s interesting that their normal agreement states differently, and even explicitly states that if they decide to offer it for free, the developer still gets 20% of their specified list price.

    I guess the important difference is who agrees to it. When Amazon decides to offer it for free, that’s separate than when a developer wants to take advantage of the advertising of Free App Of The Day. Kind of lame though. When Amazon approaches a developer to ask them to be the free app, I wonder if the developer can just say “no thanks” and make amazon pull the “our agreement says we can, but now we have to pay you oodles of money to do so”

  • Yourgamesux

    What the developer should have asked itself is “Why after trying this game is nobody still not buying it”  BECAUSE YOUR GAME OBVIOUSLY SUCKS!

    • Clearly you know nothing about the issue because their app isn’t a game. Nice try, though, buddy!

  • Anonymous

    I have to wonder if this was nothing more than an intentional hit at the Amazon Appstore (or at Android, in general). I went to see just what Android apps these guys offer, and I didn’t see a single one – nothing offered on Amazon, Google’s Marketplace or any other private app store… not even on their own site. According to their website product listing, they are an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad developer.

    http://shiftyjelly.com/products

    • Anonymous

      I’ll correct myself, I have a found a few of their apps on the Android Market… still nothing I would pay for.

  • DeathfireD

    I have mixed feelings about this. The original developer agreement promised 20% for apps features as the free app of the day. This is an agreement developers agreed upon joining Amazon market. For Amazon to change it via a private email is a “bate and switch” tactic. I don’t know the whole story since I don’t use Amazon for selling my apps but assuming Amazon didn’t release a public statement to all their developers…it’s very sketchy on their part. It’s almost like changing a TOS without letting anyone know. With all that said, If I was in their shoes and things where that vague I would not have allowed Amazon to feature my app as the Free app of the day.

  • Well now I can’t even download the app on amazon app store. Shift is acting spiteful, like a child. Amazon (in his mind) already did the damage. Why would you after that remove the app from their store?

  • Anonymous

    amazon needs to get rid of the free app of the day crap.  i almost feel guilty checking it every day like probably every single other person using the app store (that has access to the android market).  and then when you take a glance at the comments/rating of the free app of the day?  all the idiots come out of the woodwork because it’s not the free app they wanted or they have an unsupported device or stupid problem.  no comments should be allowed for free apps, at least until the next day.  i feel bad for the developers.  the app store also needs a hell of a lot of work.  why aren’t there buttons to uninstall?  how about to purchase but not download?  Or auto-download the free app of the day and save me from having to even load this crappy store every day (haha).

  • Everyone is missing the point in this article i think.  Yes, Amazon layed everything out for them and they even state that it was a risk and took it.  They ended up not liking the turn out and decided to tell their experience not to complain, but to tell other devs their experience.  After reading this article, unless i had an app that had in-app ads or in-app purchases, there doesn’t seem to be a big benefit to getting your app on app of the day.  Whether is it right or wrong for them to post this, it opened my eyes to what really goes on with app of the day and i might think twice before i get certain apps…. Maybe…  I enjoy supporting devs and don’t mind spending a buck or 5 when i find a quality product.  If i do get an app of the day from now on and i like it, i will do my best to advertize it and try to get others to buy it.

    Just my 2 cents

    • Anonymous

      It’s hard to say they’re not complaining when the post is titled “Rotten to the Core.”  By the way, mixed metaphor much?  Wouldn’t that be a better title for a post about Apple’s app store??

      • ok, yes, you are right.  They were complaining but i still feel it was more to warn other app developers of what they are getting into, than complaining about their experience.  I would be a little pissed to if i was featured and it cost me money.  lessons learned in the end.

        • Anonymous

          Fair enough.  The whole thing would likely be less controversial I think if they’d presented it as a case study or at least presented it as a lessons learned type of thing.  I’m sure a ranting blog post isn’t going to do anything to better their relationship with Amazon.

  • If the app is free all day, then even if Amazon gave the dev 20%, 20% of zero is still zero, no?

    (Or am I missing something?)

  • Tak

    I think the bigger issue is that SJ had to buy costly upgrades to support all the new users with no real benefit. His other main concern is now almost everyone that wanted his app no has it and he won’t get much of any new users. Let’s face it, Android users are Android users because they are cheapskates. It’s just another developer turn off.

  • I ran my outcall massage business on KGB deals, and what a waste of money.  I figured I would get a lot more regular clients so instead of making $75 per massage I made only $17.50 after the discount and their cut.  I have not had one single person call me back.

    Considering I have a really really high return customer base, I can only conclude that people who buy from Groupon and the other sites (myself included) are only looking for deals, and would rather wait for another deal to come up then come back and spend full price on you again.

    Just my 2 cents… This guy in the story should have researched it a little more, 0% revenue is not rocket science.

  • PyroHoltz

    Nice to read a response to their argument from someone in the Android community.

    Ultimately, I agree they should have negotiated something other than
    accepting 0% since you always needs to look out for #1, Amazon is
    running a business and so is SJ. SJ should have pushed for a middle
    ground counter agreement.

    The fact that Amazon determines the price of an app might sound legit, but it seems pretty bogus to me.

    The business lesson here, always understand a contract and never assume the terms are in stone prior to signing/agreeing.

    • kimmberly76

      Amazon does determine the price of apps and games on their app store. You really don’t have a say in it at all as a developer.

      • PyroHoltz

        I understand Amazon determines the price of the apps they sell, as you can tell by reading my post above. My point is, this is ridiculous. A developer has certain costs they need to recoup when selling an app, like servers and maintenance. The problem is, with Amazon’s pricing, the developer might not be able to operate with low prices like $0.99. And, the opposite might occur where Amazon sets a price too high and it doesn’t sell(although this is less likely.)

        The developer should be able to set their price or at least have some say if a price is too low.

        • S Pierce

          They do have some say if the price is too low.  They can choose not to offer it on Amazon.  This is what we love about Android.  This is an alternative app store.  If the developers think they’re getting a bad deal or can’t recoup their costs then they should pull their apps from Amazon’s store.

          I have no sympathy for someone that can’t make a decision in their best interest.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure that Shifty Jelly’s real problem is that they had a crappy app that noone wanted unless it was free – just like the majority of “free app of the day”. Once in a great while there’s something good, but usually not; I’ve got at least 10 “app of the day” apps right now that I’ve installed only to quickly uninstall cuz they were junk. These guys are whining that they didn’t make much money, and it’s my guess that they were getting very little before it was the free app as well. It doesn’t matter how much publicity you get with the “free app of the day” stuff if your app is still crap – nobody is going to buy it.

  • As a consumer and not a devel, I only have great things to say about them.  It went above and beyond that they gave me a $5 credit for accidentally charging me $.99 for a free app of the day.  

  • Gottheguds112

    They just come off as bitter because people are only interested in their app when it is free. SJ had all the information to make an informed decision, gambled, and lost. So deal with it. The amount of scrutiny they are bringing on themselves is not positive press for either party. Are they soliciting pity so people will buy their app?

    • Anonymous

      Any app worth getting is worth paying for. So if people only download it when it’s free, then it ain’t that good.

      I agree with you on this one…

  • NPR11

    How can you expect to be paid for an app that is being given away for free?  20% of $0 is $0.  Did he think that Amazon should pay him to give his app away for free? 

    • Anonymous

      Right… the developer didn’t really get a 0% share; he got his 20%.  Just happens that there was no revenue, so there was no share.

    • Anonymous

      Right… the developer didn’t really get a 0% share; he got his 20%.  Just happens that there was no revenue, so there was no share.

    • In the original agreement, it was stated that the developer would receive 20% of the normal price of their app if they gave away their app for free. Amazon broke this promise.

    • I don’t think you or boybert understand the terms of the deal.

      Amazon GUARANTEES 20% of the list price — that is, what the developer would normally charge — whenever it gives away an app for free or gives it a heavy discount. If you have an app that normally sells for $3, then, Amazon is supposed to give you at least 60 cents per copy during that Free App of the Day promo.

      Shifty Jelly’s point is that Amazon lies to developers up front: it tells you you’ll get 20% of list, but when it comes time, it may ask you to accept a 0% cut on the false premise that the publicity will make up for the lost sales.  And, as SJ claims, you’re supposed to keep this deal a secret — probably the usual developer NDA, but quite possibly just to avoid the rightfully deserved bad PR for Amazon.

      • Anonymous

        I’m quite sure I do understand, Jonathan.  Contract amendments and waivers are issued all the time for promotional sales like this, and the terms of the amendment… amend… the original contract.  There is no cover-up or conspiracy theory (even though the dev keeps referring to some spooky “secret” agreement).

        So, to be featured as an App of the day, you accept the terms of the promotion (whether through amendment, waiver, or just written acknowledgement) and say “yes I know I usually get 20% of MSRP but for the term of this promotion, I won’t receive any revenue.”

    • While I completely agree with it logically, take a look at the developer agreement. It says that the developer can pick the list price, but amazon reserves the right to charge whatever they want to for the app, including giving it away for free – but it EXPLICITLY states that if they sell it for less than the list price you specify, they still pay the same 20% of the list price (so it would seem, at a loss to Amazon, since they would be paying 20% of the list price to the developer and taking in $0 in sales).

      The issue here is that apparently when amazon does the Free App Of The Day, they may decide to go around their developer agreement and arrange a separate agreement that is less beneficial to the developer – developer has the option to say no, but after seeing so many other apps take advantage, they think it will work for them. There’s a good chance that SOME of those free app of the days ARE getting their 20% payout. Amazon needed some popular and expensive apps early on to get people to use their appstore, but now that they are established, they have no need to pay out anymore. People will say “I dunno about this, but Rovio did it, so it must be worth it” not realizing that Rovio DEFINITELY got their 20% payout.

      I think the lessons to be learned are: 1). Just say no to being the free app of the day unless you REALLY TRULY believe that the exposure will make your sales explode and 2). Just because another app is the featured app doesn’t mean that they did it for free OR that they benefited from it at all. In effect, the popular apps probably cost amazon a lot of money when they were offerred free, but they were able to use that to convince the less-popular apps to use that advertising method for free.

      Unfortunately:
      – A LOT of people that download the free app just because it’s free. Just because an app is popular for free doesn’t mean it’s actually popular the next day when people uninstall it.
      – “Power android users” watch the free app listings and grab the ones they want when they are free – so each one of those “sales” is a lost sale

      • Anonymous

        You’re exactly right on your point #2… in the investing world the mantra is: “past performance is not a guarantee of future results.”

        I do object to your characterization of the separate agreement/contract amendment/promotional terms as “going around” the master agreement… a characterization you seem to share with the developer.  This is all just pretty standard business and is in no way sinister or underhanded.

  • MFG

    The only reason I have the Amazon App Store is because of the Free App of the Day.

    • Anonymous

      Hah me too.

    • Anonymous

      You and everyone else =D!

      SwiftKey had to be the free app of the year so far 🙂

      • I know I’m going to get absolutely flamed for this, and it’s a little off topic, but I can’t stand SwiftKey.  I’ve been using it since it was the free app, and just think it’s absolute garbage.  I realize that this is just my two cents, but I went back to swype.

        • Anonymous

          SwiftKey isn’t garbage, but Swype is definitely king.

        • KnightDavid

          Everyone has their preferences.  Like you, I greatly prefer Swype over Swiftkey (or any of the numerous others I’ve tried).

        • Actually I agree with you.  I tried it when it was free, and deleted it almost immediately in favor of Swype.  When FlexT9 became free for a day I grabbed that.  That one I do like a lot.

          • P33chyK33n

            FlexT9 is awesome!

        • SwiftKey is the best keyboard I’ve ever used on Android. I’m interested to know why your experience was so horrible. 

          • Anonymous

            …as am I 🙂

          • Anonymous

            The only thing I don’t like about Swift Key is that I think it’s reading my mind.  Get out of my brain, Swiftkey.  

          • Anonymous

            The only thing I don’t like about Swift Key is that I think it’s reading my mind.  Get out of my brain, Swiftkey.  

        • I love swiftkey.  The only reason I am not currently using it is because it seems to use too many resources on my poor old OG Droid.

          • Anonymous

            I do agree with you on that one though. I tuses a tone of memory. But other than that, I love it 🙂

          • MattXB

            I feel your pain. I look forward to using all the keyboards that are featured but end up having to go back to the Android keyboard because my OG lags too badly with all the other. Can’t wait until December!

        • Anonymous

          I almost went back to swipe until I figured out how to use Swift’s predictions…it made the decision for me 🙂

        • Anonymous

          You can get flamed while walking your dog or just crossing the street.  It’s a dangerous word out there.

        • Anonymous

          I agree.  I used it for awhile, trying to get used to it.  However, what it came down to is this:  I type too fast and too accurate for it.  Even though that’s the setting I had, it still changed way too much that I was spending more time fixing things than actually typing.

          • Ndbaily

            Agreed. It was too slow for me. At the end of most texts i had to either go back and fix something that it changed..or was too slow and i misspelled words because of that. Went back to stock and it solved my problem

          • Marcusrussell547

            u got to go in the settings and select add a space when hitting the space bar. the default setting is to add the best perdiction 

          • Anonymous

            Same. Also, the immediate space after punctuation should have an off switch. Not a fan.

        • David Hayden

          I kind of agree. I didn’t like SwiftKey that much, it was an okay app in my opinion, but I thought the keys were a bit too small, but that’s me. I like Swype better.

        • Jake

          Only reason I have it and all the other Amazon apps is because they were free. I wouldn’t have bought any of them otherwise.

      • Mike Mike

        Fancy Widget, PvZ and Tweetcaster Pro are my top 3

        • Anonymous

          fancy widgets is pretty awesome. FieldRunners was pretty darn addictive as well.

      • Anonymous

        I really like thumb keyboard, i switch between it and swype. i felt that swiftkeys layout didn’t fit right, the key  use the most were further away and the keys were larger.

    • FortitudineVincimus

      ditto.. I HATE the app and I HATE the Amazon store. COme to think about it, I might just uninstall it and the few “free” apps I downloaded that I never use.

    • Anonymous

      Me too. Disappointed I missed the day FlexT9 was offered – one of the few good ones that have come along.

    • Wantadroid

      Wait, I’m confused, isn’t 20% of a $0 price, really just $0.  No rip off, he would have never got 100K downloads w/o being in that spot either.  Probably should have thought about the consequences before signing a contract.

      • 20% of the original price was the original agreement.

      • miklm

        That’s how I see it – 20% of $0 is 0.  Revenue sharing means you share revenue, and if Amazon gives the app away, there is no revenue.  So they’re supposed to give him 20% of the full price of something they’re giving away for free?

  • Anonymous

    I’m with you on this one Kellex. When I first read the story on AndroidPolice, my first thought was, “didn’t he know he was getting a crappy deal in the first place?” It is what it is. They gambled for an opportunity to get their app out there and their gamble didn’t pay off. Vegas doesn’t pay people back when they lose their pants, so why should Amazon?

    • Anonymous

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • Anonymous

      Right – totally.  It’s also not fair to say he would have made $50k+ if he had been charging because (as the trailing numbers show) he wouldn’t have pushed nearly as many units at full price.

      • Anonymous

        Agreed.

  • woctaog

    I completely agree.  While it’s a shame that Amazon doesn’t pay developers to have their apps listed for free, they were completely up front about it and it was SJ’s decision to make.  Good to see someone else have a perspective on this.

  • Anonymous

    The only thing this changes is my thought that buying the app of the day helps the developer get a little bit even if I don’t use the app.

    • Anonymous

      I doubt that’s really your motivation.  You also don’t really “buy” the app of the day.  It’s free, and you’re getting it because it’s free.

  • It makes sense they would not receive any money on the Free App Day placement because Amazon makes no money. I’m pretty sure they will receive their 20% (or whatever is agreed) for the remaining 13 days that their app appears on the front page…that’s the way I take it and from a business standpoint it makes sense. No dev/company would agree to it if they would never make money. Because face it, after that 14 days in the front page, it will just get lost in the rest of the apps of the marketplace

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, math says that 20% of nothing is nothing. I am not sure what the developer was thinking on this one…

      • The original deal was 20% of list price whenever Amazon does a promotion on your app. So Amazon did a bait-and-switch on the developer.

        • Anonymous

          Wait, so people expect Amazon to give them free money?  For what?  The honor of selling their crappy ppp?  L-O-L.  The saddest part of all is that this Shifty Jelly-tool is now milking this for even more free marketing.

          • You don’t seem to understand the effect of 100,000+ eyeballs daily. The developer is giving Amazon free marketing, basically. And I could care less if the developer was getting paid if the original contract didn’t say that Amazon would pay 20% of list price, and if Amazon had been honest with the developer about how many additional paid sales they would get from being the free app of the day. As the developer said, they saw almost no additional sales from being featured on the front page, but Amazon claimed developers saw tons of post-free downloads.

    • PyroHoltz

      Although Amazon isn’t receiving any monies directly for these apps, they most certainly receive a benefit in the form of more traffic to their app site when other sites like DL promote specific “Free-Apps-of-the-Day”.

      • Anonymous

        How do you quantify something like that though?

      • Anonymous

        How do you quantify something like that though?

      • you can’t quantify that. Also if you think about it, a huge point of them having an App store is to get more traffic

      • No shit they are, that’s why they run the free app of the day promotion. I know people who check it every day.

    • PyroHoltz

      Although Amazon isn’t receiving any monies directly for these apps, they most certainly receive a benefit in the form of more traffic to their app site when other sites like DL promote specific “Free-Apps-of-the-Day”.