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Showing posts by Mike Hines

December 17, 2014

Mike Hines

Article 3 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t

By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)

In the previous article in this series, we took a look at retention, usage and IAP results of our participants for the first two weeks. Now we start to see where the expertise of the top 50 comes into play.

2 weeks

Two weeks after first install, the retention numbers are getting a little ugly for the rest of us. Now the difference is about 40% in favor of the top 50, and the top 50 are also seeing increased advantages in both time in app and average revenue.

1 month

A month later, and the retention differences are overwhelming. This is a 100% advantage for the top 50. Not only that, but the top 50 app users are spending a lot more time in the game giving them just about a 60% advantage in minutes spent in game, and they’re spending a lot more money buying a lot more things from the top 50.

I have read several articles that state that most apps have lost 80% of their users at day 7, so worry less about performance a month out; there is just not the volume of users to make a difference. Even Playtika (interactive division of Caesars Entertainment) had believed this. That is until they analyzed the data. So does day 7+ matter? Well, it matters a lot. 

Next Up

In the next article in the series, we’ll break down when purchases happen, including a look at purchasing by hour, and see just what kind of revenue is still on the table after 7 days.

Ready to Submit Your App or Game?

  • To learn more about the Amazon Appstore, click here
  • Click here to register for free as an Amazon Developer. 
  • Click here to download the Amazon Mobile SDK. 
  • Click here to submit your app


December 15, 2014

Mike Hines

Sometimes seeing is believing. Certainly that’s true for me and the games I might want to play. Take Spheriod Cyclone, for example. It’s $0.99, so it’s not risk-free. if I get it and I don’t like it, I’m out a buck. But Alex Swan, the developer, gave me a way to see what it would be like to play the game by posting game play video to the app detail page.

Take a look at the video on this detail page for yourself and see if you think the video does a much better job of selling the game than the static images do.  Interested in having your own video? Here is how to do it!

Taking a Video of Your App

Don’t pull our your phone and take a video of your app running on another device; that makes your detail page look a bit like amateur-hour. Instead, you can record the gameplay directly from your Fire OS 4.5.1 devices and KitKat Android devices using Android Debug Bridge (ADB). Here is how you do that:

Connect your Fire OS 4.5.1 device or KitKat Android device to a computer with ADB installed (currently Gen 3 & 4 Fire HD and HDX tablets).  From the Terminal app on your computer, run the following ADB command:

adb shell screenrecord --bit-rate 4000000 --time-limit 15 /sdcard/vidcap.mp4

This command creates a 4mbps video 15 seconds long in your sdcard directory called vidcap.mp4. This gave me a file 7.7MB on disk with acceptable video quality. When I want better quality, I use bit-rate 8000000 and get a 12.5MB file.

You can then upload that video to Amazon via the instructions below:

Adding HD Video to Your Detail Page

If you want to submit up to 5 videos for your app on your detail page, do the following:

In your developer portal, go to the images and Multimedia tab.

Scroll to the bottom of the page, click the Upload Video button, and select the MP4 you created in the steps above.

What kind of file do you need to submit?

The ADB command I list above will create an acceptable file for you to use. If you have video from other sources, it needs to follow these requirements:

Files need to be either:         MPEG-2, WMV, MOV, FLV, AVI, or H.264 MPEG-4

Resolution:                             720 - 1080px wide (4:3 or 16:9)

Quality:                                   1200 kbps (1.2 mbps) or higher
Size:                                        Up to 150MB, use the portal control.

(for files larger than 150MB, you will need to use SFTP instead of the upload control. For instructions on SFTP, see: SFTP instructions and naming convention)

No Time Like The Present

So capture some video of your game and post it to your detail page today! Customers will be happy you did.

  • Click here to register for your free Amazon developer account.
  • Click here to download the Amazon Mobile App SDK.
  • Learn more about how to market your app on the Amazon Appstore


December 11, 2014

Mike Hines

Article 2 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t

By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)

In the previous article in this series, we took a look at how we built the cohort study we’re sharing in the series, and described what day 1 looks like in terms of retention, usage minutes, usage sessions, and IAP transactions. This article looks at the rest of the first week.

Day 2

When we last left our study participants, retention data was statistically equal, and the top 50 had an edge in usage and ARPPU. A day later we still have about equal user retention data (represented in the top part of the illustration above). Notice in the time data (the pie charts on the bottom), that the top 50 still have advantage in minutes per session and number of sessions per day. Over the month, you’ll see Total Session Length go between a 40% advantage up to an almost 60% advantage for the top 50 apps. In terms of Items sold per paying user, the top 50s advantage will stay in the single digits and won’t really move around all that much over the month.

Not so with the average selling price.  On day 2, the advantage the top 50 have in average selling price has closed a bit, but it’s not because the top 50 did anything wrong. The gap has narrowed because the rest of us started selling more things for higher prices. As a result the margin of average revenue per paying user shrank to only 14%. But this doesn’t last long.

Day 3

On day three, the retention data is still roughly equal, and the session time gains favor the top 50. But the top 50 have made some gains on average selling price. Like the day before, this is not because one group is making a big mistake, it’s because the Top 50 are moving higher-priced items in their IAP catalogs, and they are starting to differentiate offers to different groups of users.

1 Week Later

A week later, we start seeing some of the difference in retention data becoming significant. There is now roughly a 25% active user advantage to being in the top 50. As far as time in the app is concerned, we are moving a lot closer to a 60% advantage in total minutes spent for the top apps. Regarding revenue, we see a 24% difference in average revenue per paying user. No doubt this is a tipping point for our study participants. Check out how they fare moving forward.

Next Up

In the next article in the series, things start to change dramatically, and we see what it looks like to be top 50 in the long run.

For More Information

Learn more about the Amazon Appstore here.


December 03, 2014

Mike Hines

Article 1 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In-App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t

By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)

Why Do A Study At All?

This whole study of ‘the top 50 vs. the rest of us’ started because we were curious as to why some great games didn’t make a lot of money with IAP while other good games were making more. Sometimes a lot more. We do, after all, run an Appstore with millions of customers in over 200 countries and territories, so finding out how to improve our developer’s IAP returns is a pretty big deal for us.

In our search for an answer, we took a look at how the top 50 apps did with IAP and compared those results with similar apps that were not in the top 50. Then, we proceeded to dive deeper to find out what the top 50 did in common that the rest of us weren’t doing (hence the title for the blog series). We found some pretty interesting data and observations to match, and we’ll share all of that with you in this series.

Sharing the Results

The first thing I’d like to share is how the top 50 did differently. We’ll take a look at the numbers and see what it means to be top 50 versus what it means to be the rest of us. The second thing I’d like to share is what they do differently. What did the top 50 do differently than the rest of us to get those results.  Along the way we will share things that you can start implementing now, so that you can try to get results that are a lot closer to the results that the top 50 get.

The Cohort Analysis

For the first step, we wanted to find out how they did differently. That is what does a top 50 app look like when compared to the rest of us in terms of retention and usage.  To study that, we did a cohort analysis. That’s a fancy way of saying we took 100 users for each of the top-50 apps and the other apps, and compared the groups against each other. Here’s what we found while walking through the first day the users downloaded their apps:

On day 1, 100 people download and install the apps.

What’s surprising is how many people don’t actually launch the app after they download it.  So we have just a little bit over 50% of the downloads becoming active users. And as you might imagine, if you’ve downloaded the app but haven’t launched it, you will likely uninstall that app.

Be that as it may, what we really want to look at is how many users became paying users.  On the Amazon Appstore about 3% of the total downloads eventually become paying users.  I’ll refer to the active user chart at the top of the slide as Retention data. But that’s not all the data we chose to look at.

How Users Spend Time in the Apps

Look at the pie charts and bar charts below the retention data.

We also wanted to know how frequently the users were engaging with the app. The first chart that you see on the left is the average number of minutes that people spend in an app per session. For the top 50 it’s 7.4 minutes per session, and for the rest of us it’s 6.9 minutes per session. The next pie chart is the number of sessions per day that a user has with the app. Again we see an advantage for the top 50 who 2.9 sessions per day as opposed to the rest of us who got 2.6 sessions per day. Now let’s do the math and multiply the session minutes per session by the number of sessions per day. What we get is Total Session Minutes per day.  The top 50 get 21.6 session minutes per day, versus the 18 session minutes for the rest of us.  As you’ll see over time, the top 50 continue to get better at earning more session minutes and more sessions per day than the rest of us do.

It’s important to know how much time users are spending in your app, because ultimately it will impact how much they spend in your app.

How Users Spend Money in the Apps

How users spent money in the apps is what we looked at next. We took the apps from the rest of us and we normalize their earnings at 100% so we could see how the top 50 did in relation to how the rest of us did.

The first bar chart on the left shows how many items were purchased in the day, and we can see right away to the top 50 sold 12% more items than the rest of us did. And they sold for 36% more than the rest of us sold our IAP items for.  Okay, let’s do the math again. Take the number of items purchased multiplied by the purchase price, and we find the top 50 have a 54% greater average revenue per paying user (ARPPU) than the rest of us do.

Next Up

But this is just the beginning. In the next article in the series, we’ll take a look at this data moving out a bit farther in time.

For More Information

Check out the Amazon Appstore and the In App Purchasing API here.

Read some case-studies on Amazon Appstore Developers here.


December 02, 2014

Mike Hines

One of the top priorities for most developers is acquiring new users. Apart from organic channels like referrals, top charts and reviews, developers can also use paid ads to drive downloads and installs. Starting today, developers will now be able to target Fire tablet customers with Facebook mobile app ads

Drive More App & Game Downloads on Fire Tablets

Facebook’s mobile app ads for installs can help you acquire new users on Fire tablets. When a customer is in the Facebook mobile app or on Facebook on mobile web on their Fire tablet, they will see an ad for your app with a call to action button like “Install Now”. When the customer taps the ad, the Amazon Appstore client will launch to the detail page of your app, and the customer will be prompted to install the app.

These placements and the exposure they provide can drive significant traffic and help you grow your installed base quickly.

Creating a Facebook Ad is Easy

Facebook ads are easy to create and come with flexible targeting options to reach Facebook’s large audience of users effectively.

If you choose to integrate Facebook’s SDK, you will be able to track how well your ads are converting from impressions and clicks to eventual installs. You can also alternatively use SDKs from one of Facebook’s Mobile Measurement Partners to measure performance of your mobile app ads.

Create an ad for your app on Fire tablets by visiting Facebook’s Mobile App Ads for Installs to learn more and get started.


October 17, 2014

Mike Hines

One question developers commonly ask is: how can I increase downloads and reach new customers?

The first step in this process is to start with the basics.  When a customer decides they want to learn more about your app, your detail page, screenshots, icons and video are what drives conversion and downloads.

Watch this quick video to learn 4 tips to help you increase downloads and reach new customers by sweating the details and nailing the basics.


Want to learn more?  Check out our free online course, The Indie Dev's Guide to Promoting Apps and Making Money.  Enroll today to learn how to become a successful mobile developer by engaging users, earning more with your app and using data to make good decisions.




October 01, 2014

Mike Hines

The Amazon Appstore is now preloaded on BlackBerry 10.3 devices starting with BlackBerry Passport. With the release of BlackBerry build 10.3, BlackBerry users can now shop for and download apps from the Amazon Appstore.

Make More Money with the Amazon Appstore

The Amazon Appstore has never been available on a broader range of devices and platforms.  It’s no wonder 65% of the surveyed developers also say that the Total Revenue achieved on the Kindle Fire is similar to, or even better than, what they experience with other major platforms.

The Amazon Appstore is integrated into Fire tablets, Fire TV and Fire phone devices. Earlier this month, we announced that Fire TV and Fire phone are now available in the UK and Germany. Back in August, we announced the expansion of the Amazon Appstore to 41 new countries, including Egypt, Indonesia, Singapore and Turkey. So publishing your Android app on Amazon means you reach customers from around the world.

The Amazon Appstore is not just available on Amazon devices. Hundreds of thousands of customers have downloaded the Amazon Appstore for Android, and the new Amazon App App for Android deepens our penetration into the Android platform.

And now, the Amazon Appstore is preloaded on BlackBerry 10 devices globally, giving you access to more customers with Amazon.

Getting Your BlackBerry App to the Amazon Appstore

If you have an Android Runtime app in BlackBerry world today, getting it to the Amazon Appstore is pretty easy. You have two choices.

1.  Build an APK for the Amazon Appstore

If you’d like to use your IDE or Framework to create an APK for the Amazon Appstore - or if you already have an APK you built for another store -  you’ll find that it is easier than you think. If you created an Android APK for the Google Play store, there is a good chance you can use the same APK you submitted to Google Play; most apps we've tested just work in the Amazon App store.

Just follow these steps if your app does not use Google Play services:

1.  Go to

2.  Drag and drop your APK onto the Testing widget in the top left of the developer home page.

You will get a result in about 90 seconds letting you know if there are any compatibility issues you should address, and how we recommend you attend to those issues.

3. If your app passes this test with no issues, you can simply click on the ‘Submit’ button, and fill in the app metadata to submit your app.

If your app does use Google Play APIs, (like In App Billing or Cloud Messaging), you will need to:

  • Replace the Google Play API with an Amazon Equivalent (see our API stack here).
  • Once you’ve done that, you can build the APK and test it with the tool mentioned above.

2.  Get an APK out of a BlackBerry .bar file

If you’d like to test the APK out of your Android Runtime .bar file, here is how you do that:

1.  Change the file extension of the .bar file to .zip

2.  Expand the .zip file

3.  In the Android folder, you will see a file with an .apk extension (shown below) 

4.  Drop and drag that file to the testing widget on (shown below)

5.  You will get test results explaining work remaining (if any) to be compatible on the Amazon Appstore.

6.  Complete any work that may be required, and you can submit the app to the Appstore. Once approved, it will be available on BB10+ devices.

Submitting Your App is Easy

For more information on compatibility between BlackBerry World and the Amazon Appstore, please see this video.

Create a free developer account with the Amazon Appstore here.

September 24, 2014

Mike Hines

The Amazon Appstore is now preloaded on BlackBerry 10.3 devices starting with BlackBerry Passport.  Starting today, hundreds of thousands of apps and games will now be available to Blackberry customers through the Amazon Appstore

A FREE high-quality paid app is also available through the Free App of the Day program, which gives customers one free paid app each day.  At Amazon, we are always committed to making it easy for our customers to easily find the apps and products they want and ensure they’re satisfied with their overall customer experience. Now we’re excited to extend that same commitment to the BlackBerry community. BlackBerry customers will have the opportunity to discover apps that are relevant to them based on personalized recommendations and download these apps with confidence using Amazon’s trusted payment options.


On the developer side, we’re focused on creating the best platform for developers to build, monetize and distribute their apps.  Our developer ecosystem starts with the Amazon Web Services platform for developers’ infrastructure needs.  We’ve got programs like Appstore Developer Select that provide advertising and merchandising benefits to developers so they can get their app discovered. And with services like In-App Purchasing, Mobile Associates, Mobile Ads and our virtual currency Amazon Coins, developers can find all new ways to make more money. Click here to learn more.

Getting Your App on BlackBerry Devices

Publishing your app on BlackBerry devices via the Amazon Appstore is easy.  If you’re an existing Amazon Appstore developer, you’ve previously chosen to distribute your app or game on “Non-Amazon Devices” and your app is compatible with BlackBerry Passport, you don’t have to do anything - your app is already available on BlackBerry Passport devices. 

If you’re an existing BlackBerry developer but new to the Amazon Appstore, click here to register for a free developer account and submit your app today.


August 29, 2014

Mike Hines

Why do indie developers love the Amazon Appstore? 

Because they can extend their reach and make more money.  65% of developers say total revenue similar or better than other platforms.  Trevor Holyoak of says:

"Right now, the income is about five times better than Google Play"

Watch this video to learn more, then click here to register for your free Amazon Appstore account.  Already have an app?  Click here to test it.  Over 75% of apps we tested just work just work on Fire devices, with no additional development required.


August 25, 2014

Mike Hines

Since the launch of Amazon Coins in 2013, customers have already spent hundreds of millions of Amazon Coins, representing real savings for customers and real dollars to developers who still received their full revenue share.

Today, we’re expanding the Amazon Coins program to Japan and Australia.  Now customers in Japan and Australia can use Amazon Coins on apps, games, and in-app items from their Kindle Fire, Android phone or tablet, and on and  Customers can enjoy apps and games for less by purchasing Amazon Coins, and the more they buy, the greater the discount.

For a limited time, every Kindle Fire owner in Japan and Australia will find 500 Yen/$5.00 AUD worth of free coins deposited into their Amazon Account. And as an additional incentive, customers can also purchase coins in bulk and receive a discount of up to 20% to spend on apps and games in the Amazon Android Appstore (regular discount is 10% off apps and games).

Developers Maintain Their Full Revenue Share

For developers, Amazon Coins gives customers more ways to buy, and more incentives to download and use your apps and games.  While customers can save up to 10% when they pay using Amazon Coins, Amazon Appstore developers continue to earn their standard 70% revenue share.  Customers enjoy real savings, while developers get their full revenue share.

We have already seen developers benefit from customers using their Amazon Coins to buy apps, games and in-app items. For many Indie developers, coins have accounted for the majority of their revenue since the US launch last year. Check out results from Halfbrick, PepiPlay, and textPlus to learn more.

Next Steps

  • To download the Amazon Appstore, click here.
  • To buy Amazon Coins in Australia click here.  In Japan click here.
  • Create a free Amazon Developer Account here
  • Test to see if your Android APK will run on Fire OS devices by going to this page, or by dragging and dropping into our tool on the Dev Portal home page here.




本日、Amazonコインのサービスを日本とオーストラリアで開始いたしました。日本とオーストラリアのお客様はにおいて、Kindle FireタブレットやAndroidスマートフォンやタブレット上でアプリ、ゲーム、アプリ内課金のお支払いにAmazonコインをお使いいただくことでアプリ・ゲームをお得な価格で購入することができます。

サービス開始を記念し、Kindle Fireタブレットシリーズをお持ちのお客様には500円相当のコインがアカウントに無料でプレゼントされます。さらに、期間限定で、Amazonコインのまとめ買いをさらに割引価格で販売しており、Amazonコインを使ったアプリやアプリ内課金アイテムの購入が最大20%お得になります(通常は10%の割引になります)。






  • Amazonアンドロイドアプリストアの利用方法はこちらをクリック。
  • Amazonコインを日本で購入するにはこちらをクリック。
  • Amazonの開発者登録(無料)はこちらをクリック。
  • お手元のAndroidアプリのAPKファイルがFire OSで動作するかを確認するにはこちら。開発者向けポータルサイトでドラッグ&ドロップをするだけです。

June 11, 2014

Mike Hines

Our guest blogger today is Jason Mark, co-founder of Gravity Switch, a Design and Usability firm that has worked on projects for Disney, The Guggenheim, Dartmouth and Yale. In this post, he demonstrates exactly how important good design and the right screenshots are to your app.

Below are 7 apps. Can you tell which is targeted to women only? For doctors only? The most popular? And can you figure out which was made by a $2B company and which is home grown?

Please spend no more than one minute looking at the screenshots below and see if you can identify where they came from. Try to be aware of WHY you think this way.

Which is:

  • For women
  • For doctors
  • Most popular
  • $2B company
  • Home grown

Macintosh HD:Users:mihines:Pictures:BlogPictures:JasonMark:PastedGraphic-2.pdf

Macintosh HD:Users:mihines:Pictures:BlogPictures:JasonMark:PastedGraphic-3.pdf

Macintosh HD:Users:mihines:Pictures:BlogPictures:JasonMark:PastedGraphic-4.pdf

Macintosh HD:Users:mihines:Pictures:BlogPictures:JasonMark:PastedGraphic-5.pdf

Macintosh HD:Users:mihines:Pictures:BlogPictures:JasonMark:PastedGraphic-6.pdf

Macintosh HD:Users:mihines:Pictures:BlogPictures:JasonMark:PastedGraphic-7.pdf

How did you do?

Studies have shown that within seven seconds of meeting someone, you’ve made at least TWELVE judgment calls about them. You have formed an impression of how wealthy they are, how educated, how liberal or conservative, how intelligent, how much fun, and more.

All in just seven seconds.

The same thing happens when a prospective client first sees your app icon and your screenshots. When a reviewer posts a screenshot or someone sees your paid advertisement, prospective customers are forming a lasting impression about things you many never have realized or intended. How trustworthy are you? How capable are you? How expensive are you? Are you a good fit for them?

If you haven’t given thought to these things, you’re missing a critical opportunity. If you’re not clear about what story you’re telling, then your audience will make up their own story and it definitely won’t be the one you intend.

The truth is, I don’t know which of these is for women, or which is a $2B company, but when I show this test to people they always have an opinion. And you probably did too. You probably *thought* you knew the answer to at least one or two of those questions.

Which is really what brand is all about, remember: Your brand is not what you say it is. Your brand is what other people say it is.

The right way to approach brand

Asking if you should make your icon green or blue is like asking if you should use a list or an array. It's not a committee decision to be made by amateurs. It’s a decision that should be made by trained experts who understand negative space, typography and color theory. 

While code is about functionality, design is about intent. It’s about what we want people to feel, and what do we want them to do (see: ).

A great designer starts by understanding your intent.  What do you want people to know, feel and do?  Once those things are understood, the details around how you accomplish those goals via colors and fonts is much easier.  You’ve already established the criteria – your intent – so it’s easier to make decisions on the details.

A great designer understands how margins and colors can convey the correct messages. They listen and reflect back where you’re going visually. They won’t ask which concept you like best, they’ll remind you of your goals and ask you which one “works” best, or if you have a really great designer they’ll TELL you which one works best. If you’re “stuck in the how" maybe it’s time you took things up a couple of levels.

You can find Jason on the following sites.


May 29, 2014

Mike Hines

Amazon Fire TV offers an exciting opportunity for game developers to reach more customers, by making your apps and games accessible in the living room.

This quick video will give you an overview of Amazon Fire TV.  It will cover how Fire TV can help Android developers (big and small) increase their customer base, how to monetize on Fire TV, how to optimize for a 10-foot experience, and cover how to qualify for 500K Amazon Coins ($5,000 value) for promotion for each of your qualifying paid apps or apps with in-app purchasing.  For more information about getting started with Amazon Fire TV, see our online documentation:


May 14, 2014

Mike Hines

One of the questions we hear frequently from developers is which platform they should target first when building their app. Adrian Barritt, head of development at Barnstrom Games, along with his team asked the same question when planning their app The Chase. The Chase first launched in August of 2013 and was the first app that the team decided to launch in the Amazon Appstore. The app allows a team of four challengers to play against a machine to test their knowledge. When asked why they chose the Amazon Appstore, Adrian said that “the opportunity was huge, and [we] saw similar apps performing really well on the Amazon Appstore”. The team also mentioned that “it doesn’t hurt when you hear good things from others [Square Enix] and how impressed they were with the coverage they received” says Adrian.

Recently, we had the chance to sit down with Adrian to discuss how they got their app to rise to the top of the charts in the UK, and how they view their experience with Amazon Appstore. Here are some of Adrian’s observations:

500% Increase in Sales Upon Launch of Amazon Coins

“Our sales went pretty ballistic when Amazon launched Amazon Coins.” says Adrian. Amazon Coins are generally used by customers to explore and try out new apps. Customers can get Amazon Coins in a variety of ways such as purchasing or earning Coins for free. Developers can really benefit from this since there are a lot of customers waiting to use up their Coins on different apps. Barnstorm Games specifically saw their app benefit from this.

“Our sales went up 10-fold (1000%) for about a week during the Amazon Coins promotion when Amazon gave away a vast amount of Coins to their customers. Even after the promotion we saw a 500% increase in sales from what we used to get.”- Adrian Barritt

Part of Adrian’s strategy is understanding when consumers usually purchase apps. The team made sure that their app would be ready for launch before the holidays. As a result the team saw a “2000% increase on Christmas Day compared to our average sales we usually get per day”. Since then, the team continues to see a consistent increase of 200-300% in sales after the Coins promotion ended and is now consistently ranked among the top 3 apps in the UK.

“We are more than happy with our performance in the Amazon Appstore and our expectations have been exceeded” – Adrian Barritt

Amazon Coins

Transitioning the App to Google Play with Ease

One of the goals for Barnstorm was to expand their app onto more platforms. Since the team initially built their app on the Kindle Fire, they knew that Android would be a natural transition. So how was the process for transitioning the app over to Android? “The transition for creating an Android version was very easy since Kindle Fire was just designed that way.” says Adrian. You may recall that 75% of Android tablet apps that we tested just work on Kindle Fire with no additional development needed so it’s not surprising that Adrian said that “there was no additional work needed beyond supporting GameCircle and thinking what services to use. Other than that it was very simple.”

“Even though we are on Google Play as well now, the majority of the time the Amazon Appstore still performs better than Google Play in terms of revenue”.

Using GameCircle to increase Engagement

One service that Barnstorm is using to increase customer engagement is the GameCircle API. “With GameCircles’s achievement feature, it’s definitely helped us retain and engage our users” says Adrian. The team uses achievements to mark how well players are performing against others in “The Chase”, which has really improved average session length. After seeing the success with GameCircle, Adrian is currently looking into more services such as Amazon’s Device Messaging API to engage the audience even more by pushing out notifications to them.


Next Step for Barnstorm

The team has a new app that they just released in the Amazon Appstore called Tipping Point. The app is already topping the charts in the UK as well and the team has high hopes for it. Barnstorm also just participated in Amazon’s Free App of the Day program as well, helping them get even more exposure to customers.

Learn more about the tools used by Barnstorm Games

Amazon Coins


Free App of the Day


April 16, 2014

Mike Hines

Amazon WebView (AWV) is a Chromium-derived web runtime exclusive to Fire OS. AWV makes better performing and more powerful apps possible by providing support for a faster JavaScript engine (V8), remote debugging, and hardware optimizations for Kindle Fire devices including an accelerated 2D Canvas. Enabling your Cordova project to support AWV gives you access to HTML5 features not supported by Android’s built in WebView such as: CSS Calc, Form Validation, getUserMedia, IndexedDB, Web Workers, WebSockets and WebGL.

For developers who are not familiar with Cordova, it is an open source solution that provides tools and templates that wrap web code and assets, allowing you to publish your web code and assets as if they were native apps. Cordova is also customizable via its plugin architecture which allows developers to extend the framework in order to access OS level APIs like the built-in contact list, as well as physical hardware on the device itself like the camera.  Cordova also makes it possible for two way communication from the web app wrapper to the device’s native language.

To ensure that all core Cordova plugins will be natively supported, Amazon worked with the Apache community when adding Cordova support for the Amazon Fire OS platform. Here is how to set it up on your local computer, enable Amazon Web View and create a project from scratch.

1. Install Tools

You need to make sure you have all the required tools and libraries needed to compile and package an Android application. Download and install the following (please note these links will take you to third-party sites):

You'll need to have Java installed, and the Android SDK from which includes the Android Developer Toolkit (adt). You may be presented with a choice of where to install the SDK, otherwise move the downloaded adt-bundle tree to wherever you store development tools.

For Cordova command-line tools to work, you need to include the Android SDK's tools and platform-tools directories in your PATH environment:

To modify the PATH environment on Mac, Linux, etc.:

  • Use a text editor to create or modify the ~/.bash_profile file, adding a line such as the following, depending on where the SDK installs:
export PATH= $ {PATH}:/Development/adt-bundle/sdk/platform-tools:/Development/adt-bundle/sdk/tools

You will also need to enable Java, Ant and/or Node from the command line. Open a command prompt and type "java", then "ant" then "node". Reinstall, or append to the PATH whichever fail to run.

This will expose the tools in newly opened terminal windows. Otherwise run this to make them available in the current session:

$ source ~/.bash_profile

To modify the PATH environment on Windows 7:

  • Click on the Start menu in the lower-left corner of the desktop, right-click on Computer, then click Properties.
  • Click Advanced System Settings in the column on the left.
  • In the resulting dialog box, press Environment Variables.
  • Select the PATH variable and press Edit.
  • Append the following to the PATH based on where you installed the SDK, for example:
  • Save the value and close both dialog boxes.

You will also need to enable Java, Ant and/or Node from the command line. Open a command prompt and type "java", then "ant" then "node". Reinstall, or append to the PATH whichever fail to run:


2. Install Cordova

Make sure you are able to invoke npm (Node Package Manager) on your command line; it's added as a part of Node.js. (You can install Node.js from the homepage and type NPM in the command line to validate the installation.)

To install Cordova, open a command prompt/terminal and use:

$ npm install -g cordova

On Unix-like systems, you may need to append "sudo" to ensure it is installed correctly. See Cordova's documentation for the Command-Line Interface for more details.

3. Create Cordova Project

Create project. Open a command line/terminal in a directory where you'd like to have your project stored and run the following commands to create a project and add the files needed to build for Amazon Fire OS:

$ cordova create hello com.example.hello HelloWorld

Add Amazon Fire OS platform.  Change into the newly created project directory and add the files needed for the amazon-fireos platform target.

$ cd hello
$ cordova platform add amazon-fireos

4. Install the Amazon WebView SDK

The first time you try to add the amazon-fireos platform you will be instructed add the Amazon WebView SDK. Download and extract the Amazon WebView SDK zip file from the Amazon Developer Portal.

Copy awv_interface.jar from the unzipped folder into the amazon-fireos directory found in Cordova's global working directory. Note: You'll need to create the libs/ folder manually.

On Mac/Linux:

$ mkdir ~/.cordova/lib/amazon-fireos/cordova/3.4.0/framework/libs
$ cp awv_interface.jar ~/.cordova/lib/amazon-fireos/cordova/3.4.0/framework/libs/

On Windows:

> mkdir %USERPROFILE%\.cordova\lib\amazon-fireos\cordova\3.4.0\framework\libs
> cp awv_interface.jar %USERPROFILE%\.cordova\lib\amazon-fireos\cordova\3.4.0\framework\libs

Then you will need to remove and re-add the platform:

$ cordova platform rm amazon-fireos 
$ cordova platform add amazon-fireos

5. Build your Project

Add HTML5 assets. Your web app's assets - HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, etc.  - should be placed in the project's www folder. You can use the sample placeholder files installed as a template, or you can replace them completely with your web apps's files.

Add support for Android devices if needed. If your app is going to be used on non-Fire OS devices running Android, you can provide a fallback to the stock Android WebView engine by adding the awv_android_factory.jar file found in the AWV SDK bundle into your Cordova project under the platform libraries folder. For example:


Adding the code above will allow you to submit the app to the Amazon Appstore and target non-Kindle Fire devices as well as all Kindle Fire devices.

Build and deploy your project. Make sure that USB debugging is enabled on your device as described on the Android Developer Site, and use a mini USB cable to plug it into your system. (Note: Currently, testing via an emulator is not supported for Amazon WebView based apps.)

Then you can build and deploy the app to the device with the following single command:

$ cordova run

What You Can Do Now

With Amazon Web View support enabled for Cordova, you can build higher performance apps with tools like WebGL, CSS Calc and Web Workers, debug your app remotely, and see performance gains through a faster JavaScript engine and access to accelerated hardware on Kindle Fire devices.

To learn more, follow these links (some of which will take you to third-party sites):




April 04, 2014

Mike Hines

Go Live when You Want To

Amazon has recently added the ability to specify the date and time you would like your app to go live on the Amazon Appstore. This gives you the ability to coordinate your app release on Amazon with releases on other stores and in conjunction with any press or social media launch events you may wish to plan.

How Does It Work?

You start by completing the new app submission or the app update submission as you normally would, but make sure that you enter the date and time you want your app to go live in the Availability & Pricing section (see image below). Times are shown in Pacific Standard Time.

Then you simply submit your app as usual.

What Happens Next?


When you first click the ‘Submit’ button, your app will display the status “Submitted” for up to 60 minutes until we kick off testing for your app.

Under Review

Typically, within 60 minutes of submission, your app will enter testing regardless of the launch date you have chosen. This lets us notify you of any issues prior to your launch event. While your app is being tested, your app status will show as “Under Review”.


If your app passes testing, your app will be staged on our servers, waiting for the date and time you specified. During this waiting time, your app will show an “Approved” status in the Developer Portal.


At the time of your launch, we complete the publishing process to make your app available in the Amazon Appstore. We work hard to complete the testing process as quickly as possible, and our goal is to publish at least 90% of apps within 60 minutes of the time specified. Once publishing is complete, your app will have the “Live” status in the developer portal.

You can edit the launch date and time any time prior to your app going “Live” in the Appstore.

What You Can Do Now

Mike Hines



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