Releasing an app on more than one App Store is becoming an increasingly common strategy for developers seeking extra avenues for revenue and success. With the App Store and Google Play markets stocking in excess of a million apps each and discovery becoming an ever increasing problem, canny app marketers are taking to alternative stores to seek platforms that offer unique strengths (such as strong monetisation performance or specialised geo-targeting) to propel their apps to further success.
But which stores should you be going for and will some deliver a better return than others? This analysis of the Amazon App Store provides a review of one of the better known alternative stores. We’ve divided this review into the following sections to help you get a handle on all aspects of the store
- Executive Summary
- Amazon App Store Overview
- Getting Your App Listed by Amazon
- App Marketing and Promotional Opportunities on the Amazon Store
- Revenue Generation and Monetization
- Should You port your App to The Amazon Store?
The Amazon App Store is currently a small market that currently lacks the enormous volumes seen on Google Play and iOS. But it has a lot of promise and offers significant opportunities for developers who focus in Europe/North America, who have tablet apps and who have a strong marketing team to take advantage of the friendly ASO environment
Avoids problem of device fragmentation with focus on Kindle
Boasts an accessible and understandable system of App Store Optimisation
Has an easier environment to negotiate feature spots within
Monetises well in comparison to Google Play and stands up well to App Store revenues
Less competition – 120,000 apps on Amazon vs over a million on iOS and Android
Lower downloads than Google Play by a significant degree
Low hardware sales figures limits audience
Focused on tablet/Kindle market not smartphones
Limited presence outside US/ Western Europe
Amazon App Store Overview
According to App Annie’s Amazon App Store stats, the Amazon App Store is currently home to a little over 120,000 apps. That number is obviously small in comparison to the million present on Google Play and the App Store but it shows a marked increase from the 50,000 available in September 2012.
Number of apps by Appstore (000s) Feb 2014
Source: App Annie
As for publisher numbers (again drawn from App Annie), there are roughly 31,000 publishers operating within the market which means the competition is much lower than the other two platforms which each have around 270,000 publishers operating. Companies such as King, Rovio and GameLoft are present on the platform but major monetisers such as Supercell and Gungho currently aren’t on board – revealing both a potential concern about revenue potential as well as giving hope to those looking for a less competitive market.
Number of Publishers by Appstore (000s) Feb 2013
Source: App Annie
The store has been available in 170 countries across the world since July 2013 but Amazon’s strength remains in the seven territories it supported in the early stage of its App Store growth: the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Germany. The focus on the markets considered to be core on iOS and Android to most developers makes the store a more enticing prospect for Western developers in particular. Currently, the Amazon App Store market caters only to tablet users. Despite an oft rumoured Amazon Phone, the current range of devices boasting the App Store remain the tablet only Kindle Fire, the Kindle Fire HD and the new lightweight Kindle Fire HD X. Coming in with screen sizes ranging from 7-8.9 inches, the Amazon App Store clearly suits developers with strong tablet products.
In terms of hardware sales and market size, the exact figures are hard to ascertain. Amazon’s coyness over sales figures makes it difficult to judge overall market. But with statistics suggesting that overall sales figures reached 7 million in October 2012, that roughly a million are shipped each quarter and that there was a significant sales bump in Q4 2012, a sensible estimate would suggest that there are about 12-15 million Kindle Fires in the market; small fry compared to Apple’s sales of 170 million iPads? and the huge numbers of Android tablets shipped in Q3 2013 alone.
This is borne out further in a comparison between download volume on Google Play and the Amazon App Store. Across a sample of apps selected by Dutch firm Distimo, Google Play volumes for an app reached at times nearly ten times as many installs as on the Amazon store for a free app and three times as many for a paid app – a clear indication that volumes on the store remain limited in comparison to other globally available stores
Monthly download volumes Google Play vs Amazon
Ultimately, the overview of the market suggests that the Amazon App Store is small in comparison to others and stacked in favour of tablet developers operating within the European and North American markets.
Getting your app listed by Amazon
The Amazon App Store is known predominantly as an alternative platform for Android apps. In the case of the former, a developer needs to either port their app to the OS or simply upload their APK directly to the site. One of the major benefits of uploading an Android app to the Amazon App Store is how easily the problem of device fragmentation can be avoided. With only a handful of devices and form factors to prepare the app for, the common Android problem of device compatibility is washed away. Another key difference to the Amazon App Store from Google Play is the presence of a content approval process. Apps are checked to see if they meet the content guidelines and are rejected from the store if they contain any of the following:
Gambling with Real Currency
Intellectual Property Infringement
Broadly, this should be considered a positive for developers. The approval process means that the Amazon App Store should contain greater quality content that is trusted more by consumers than that available on reactive stores such as Google Play. While this means your app could be left in the lurch by changes to the rules in the manner of App Gratis, the movement from Google in recent months to put their store in line with the active moderation approach favoured by Apple suggests that Amazon are on the right track with this. When it comes to creating the App Store listing for the Amazon Store, the app store upload dashboard is well equipped to turn your store landing page into a strong commercial prospect. Most of the resources that are available for upload will be familiar to Google Play developers and include:
An app name
An app icon
An app description
Up to ten screenshots
A promotional image in case of App Store feature
Up to five videos
Up to 250 characters of keywords
That means the Amazon App Store offers a stronger basis for a successful App Store listing than Google Play or iOS. With additional keywords to play with and opportunities to upload more screenshots and videos, the Amazon App Store offers developers and publishers a stronger opportunity to sell their Android apps.
Beyond Android apps however, the Amazon Store also allows developers to upload and sell HTML 5 apps. By uploading a URL and App Store assets, HTML 5 developers have been able to have their app on sale side by side with Android apps since July 2013; a fact that makes the Amazon store an attractive prospect for HTML 5 developers.
That means getting onto the Amazon App Store should be summarised as a broadly positive experience for most developers. While the content guidelines may be frustrating to some Android developers, the lessened problem of device fragmentation, the broader base for marketing assets and the option to upload HTML 5 makes the Amazon App Store an attractive bridging proposition for developers looking to extend their Android or HTML 5 reach.
Marketing and Promotional Opportunities on the Amazon Store
Amazon have made a number of sustained efforts to ensure apps listed within their store are in a favourable marketing environment. In fact, the company have developed a number of tools and initiatives that make the Amazon App Store one of the friendliest environments for app store marketers. Their most high profile scheme is the recently announced Developer Select initiative. In return for developing a high definition app that features relevant Amazon API within, such as their GameCircle API, Ad SDK and IAP API, developers can benefit from:
500,000 free ad impressions in the Amazon Ad Network
Promotional slots within the App Store for qualifying apps
25% off Amazon Web Services (such as their Simple Notification push service)
Up to 30% cashback for users who download their apps.
Such a scheme has obvious advantages for those looking for a greater promotional boost and who have the time or resources to integrate Amazon API into their apps. But, beyond this headline service, there are a number of other tools that will help marketers on the store.
One of those is the Amazon developed A/B testing SDK. Free to download, the SDK allows you to make changes to an app that is live – offering tools to run experiments and segment users on the go. That allows marketers to easily amend apps without having to go through the hassle of updates – a clear time saver for the development team in the long run and, now, handily available cross platform to benefit you across the remainder of your app portfolio.
As further evidence of their openness, Amazon runs a comparatively open editorial process. Instead of having to hope that an app will get noticed by testers and picked for a promotional slot on the store, developers can directly petition Amazon to have their app featured in the Highly Rated, Featured or Seasonal categories – something that goes some way to eradicating the “submit and hope” approach to promotional features on iOS and Android.
This attitude likely comes from Amazon’s decision to run a daily free app a day deal service. Run in house and recommending a paid app for free, it offers developers an opportunity to increase their user base in return for “reciprocal marketing”. While unspecified, the fact that Angry Birds 2 and Fruit Ninja have taken part to celebrate a number of Amazon specific events suggests that this is a strong opportunity for a quality app to increase its visibility on the store.
Perhaps most interestingly of all for marketers, Amazon offers one of the clearest and most effective battlegrounds for App Store Optimisation. There has been little research into the overall effectiveness of ASO on the platform but the clear guidelines provided by Amazon into what counts towards it, the larger keyword field and fewer apps to compete with make it an enticing prospect for app developers who have a strong handle on their ASO to exploit.
In short, the Amazon App Store has arguably created an environment that is considerably friendlier than on iOS or Android, with the openness of Amazon helping to provide developers with more opportunities for optimisation of performance and mutually beneficial promotion.
Revenue Generation & Monetization
Despite its small size, the headline figures regarding Amazon App Store monetisation suggests that it could be a useful platform for savvy developers. In 2012, TinyCo reported that their Amazon apps were out performing iOS and Android in the revenue stakes. And in a report from May 2012, app analytics firm Flurry reckoned that the Amazon store made $0.89 in revenue for every dollar made on the App Store – making Amazon revenues nearly three times higher than Google Play’s.
Average Revenue Per App US$ by Appstore
Why this is the case remains somewhat fuzzy but a number of key features stand out as improving monetisation performance. One such reason is one click payment technology. By speeding up the payment process for apps using the technology developed for their web site, users on Amazon have fewer barriers to payment than those on password restricted stores and are therefore more likely to convert when they are driven to the App Store.
Another key reason is Amazon Coins. Introduced in May 2013, users are able to convert denominations of cash into marginally larger hauls of coins to spend on apps and other Amazon products. By mobilising the obfuscating effect of currency in freemium apps and creating a bargain effect for buying the coins that reach beyond apps, Amazon have carefully begun to loosen consumers Value For Money calculations in favour of developers looking to make money.
As for other reasons, the location of the majority of the Amazon user base in Europe and North America means that the store has a user base who are willing to spend. With CPI rates driven up across those territories as high as $5 per user (for IOS and Android users?) the effective grip Amazon has on those territories means that developers with games suitable for a Western Audience could find a valuable UA seam to exploit.
Finally, app store curation could be an important playing a part in the increased consumer spend. In part this comes down to the elevation of certain apps as featured to promote spending but, more broadly, it is about a process of consumer trust. With the store avoiding accusations regarding piracy, clone apps and malware that have plagued Google Play, the Amazon App Store environment is somewhere safe for consumers to spend.
Of course, the store is punching only comparatively above its weight; revenue performance is still down on Google Play by some distance and even further behind the App Store. But, in general, the Amazon App Store appears to be a promising prospect for those looking for users to monetise.
Should you port your app to the Amazon App Store?
The Amazon App Store can best be described as a small yet promising App Store environment. Hardware sales and download figures remain low in comparison to the larger players but there are a number of reasons to believe it could be a useful outlet for your app as Amazon continue their quest to grow it into a larger platform.
In particular, the marketing environment and monetisation performance makes it attractive for all comers. For Android and HTML 5 developers, a small amount of work on the marketing side of the store should allow for a relatively easy return on the investment necessary to port the app across.
As for iOS developers, the Amazon environment could be a good “bridge” towards the more chaotic Android experience of Google Play. With the fragmentation issue at a minimum, the better regulated and decent performing Amazon App Store environment is a more forgiving environment than Google Play to dip a toe in the water.
So, to summarise, the Amazon App Store is well worth considering if you have a tablet app aimed at the North American or European market. Small though it may be, it could pack a surprisingly effective punch for those willing to seek out its rewards.