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June 01, 2011

amberta

Kevin Barry, the developer behind WidgetLocker, was one of the early developers to submit his apps to the Amazon Appstore for Android – and we’re glad he did! 

WidgetLocker is an app that lets customers customize their lock screen. Users can select from various slider styles or place their own custom sliders and widgets. They can also configure which buttons, such as volume or trackball, are active when the phone is on but locked.

Kevin first heard about the Amazon Appstore in the Android rumor mill. Right around the time he picked up on the buzz, he received an e-mail from us asking him if he’d like to submit his app to our new store. “After I first started engaging with the Amazon Appstore team, I was already impressed,” Kevin said. “They were, and are, always responsive and were able to help me with technical questions. In the Android Market I need to rely solely on the forums for help.”

We decided to run a promotion with WidgetLocker. Here’s what we looked at before selecting this app for a promotion:

  • Was the category popular with our customers? WidgetLocker is in Utilities, which has been a very active category since launch.
  • Did we like the app? While we test every app included in the store, there are some that our team of merchandisers use regularly and like. This was one of them.
  • Did the app already have a few reviews? We can make assumptions about what our customers may or may not like based on overarching behavior in the store, but there’s nothing like hearing directly from customers and what they do or don’t like.

WidgetLocker is also “Test Drive” enabled. This is by no means a requirement for apps we select for promotions, but it is compelling for customers.

Widget-locker
 

Although WidgetLocker doesn’t come with a hefty price tag, it is a paid app. We decided to mark the app down for a limited period of time to entice customers to act NOW. We marked WidgetLocker from $1.99 down to $0.99.  When we do markdowns, it’s not because we want to slash prices – we want to drive behavior. In this instance, we wanted to drive downloads of the app.

After the promotion wrapped, Kevin told us, “To be honest, I didn’t think marking the app down would make a big impact. I’m happy to say I was wrong. The discount seemed to drive a lot of sales. I think if I had just lowered the price to $0.99, it wouldn’t have made the same impact – it was the perception of a sale combined with the marketing around the sale.”

On top of marking down the price, we sent an e-mail about WidgetLocker, along with a selection of other app deals, to a targeted list of customers who had already expressed interest in receiving information regarding Utilities and Productivity apps.

Widgetlocker-email
 
The results were great – during the promotion, WidgetLocker’s sales spiked and they climbed the ranks:

Charts
 

**the app was also #1 overall during the promotion.

On an ongoing basis, we’re monitoring customer activity to merchandise the site and select deals and promotions. Our goal is to keep our customers happy and coming back and to keep our developers happy by getting exposure for their apps as well as driving revenue.

May 31, 2011

amberta

Following on the heels of our Android exclusive launch of Chuzzle, today we released Plants vs. Zombies for Android which, for the next couple weeks, Android users can only get in the Amazon Appstore for Android.

Square-banner

If you’re not familiar with Plants vs. Zombies, it’s one of game developer PopCap’s most popular titles.  A mob of fun-loving zombies invades players’ homes and the only defense is an arsenal of  zombie-zapping plants.

In a blog post about “Marketing apps on Amazon.com,” we talked about how we occasionally market apps from our store in other Amazon storefronts, and gave TurboTax as an example.  In addition to featuring apps for Android in other storefronts and, of course, automated marketing, we have a few marketing levers that help apps get discovered.  The big daddy of them all is something we call a “Brand Store.”

Popcap-store

Brand Stores are a collection of products by a given brand used across categories at Amazon.com.  Because PopCap sells apps for Android, video games, and now digital video games on Amazon.com, we worked with them to create a destination to show all of their goods in one place thus making it easier for PopCap fans to find all of PopCap’s gems (and Chuzzles, and Zombies, and …) in one place.

Brand Stores are appropriate for bigger vendors.  That said, we are constantly working to showcase lesser known vendors and their apps on the Amazon Appstore and other Amazon.com destinations.  We are doing this through promotions, targeted emails, promotions on related items’ pages, and more.  We are dedicated to helping expose small developers' apps. 

So why do we keep banging the drum with these big vendors and better known apps?  It’s simple – we think that by giving our customers exclusive content, great deals, and the brands they know and love, we’ll be able to drive more traffic to the Amazon Appstore and inherently to every app in the Amazon Appstore.

May 17, 2011

amberta

Yesterday PopCap Games, a worldwide leader in casual games, announced an agreement with – you guessed it – us, to offer their first Android games in the U.S. market, exclusively in the Amazon Appstore for Android. Today we’re happy to make Chuzzle (regularly $2.99) available for free.

For the few people not familiar with Chuzzle, it’s a non-stop explosion of game action. Chuzzles burst when they get together in groups of three or more. The only way to “make them happy” is to pop them.  Chuzzle is already a hit with iPhone users. Now, Chuzzle for Android features on-the-go gameplay action including four different modes, a “trophy room,” scrambles, and dynamic level generation.

CHUZZLE-FAD
 

What’s in it for you?
We’re continuing a steady drumbeat of exclusives and deals to wow customers, thus bringing new customers into the store and enticing existing customers to keep coming back. As we mentioned in last week’s post about Angry Birds Rio, the more customers we engage, the more opportunities there is to monetize your apps. 

We’ve launched a marketing campaign for the exclusive Android launch of Chuzzle on the Amazon Appstore, and, spoiler alert, we’re preparing one for the impending exclusive Android launch of Plants vs. Zombies. Both Chuzzle and Plants vs. Zombies have a large and loyal iPhone fanbase, and Android users have been asking for these games.

Why do we do exclusives?
At Amazon, we start with the customer and work backwards. By bringing new apps and games to the Android marketplace first, we’re showing our customers we work hard to deliver some of hottest titles before they’re available anywhere else.

We think happy customers will be repeat customers, so for developers this means more chances to get apps, including exclusive apps, in front of the right audience. On an ongoing basis we’re also working to drive traffic to our store – and your apps.

When do we consider exclusives?
We are always looking for the next best thing, which is part of why we love our jobs – we get to play!  We’re also monitoring what customers are saying about apps and the Amazon Appstore, including what else customers want.  We look at exclusives on an opportunistic basis; some of our considerations are:

  • Are the apps timely?
  • Will our customers want them? Do they suit our core audience?
  • Is the developer willing and able to help in the marketing of the exclusive?
  • Is there a proven track record of success? (This is by no means a deal maker or breaker– we’re always trying to uncover new apps that we think will be runaway hits.)

Stay tuned for more on exclusives and cool opportunities – we’re just getting warmed up.

May 17, 2011

amberta

How to update your app:
To update details about your app (including images, videos, app descriptions, etc.):

  1. Go to “My Apps” (do not click on “Add New App”) and click “Edit App Details” button for your Live, Pending Action, Incomplete, or Ready to Submit app
  2. You can make changes and save them in each section
  3. You must click “Submit App” when finished – this will allow Amazon to validate and publish your  changes live on the website


To update your APK:

  1. Click “Create new version” near your Live, Approved, or Rejected app
  2. You can upload a new binary on the next screen
  3. Put release notes in the “Upload Binary” section after you upload your APK
  4. Click “Submit App” to notify Amazon about your new version of the app

May 13, 2011

amberta

Angry-birds-rio-icon If you’ve seen or heard of the movie Rio, you may have seen that Blu isn’t in his cage anymore – no mirror, no little bell.  He’s ready to hit the beach.  And with Blu gaining his freedom, Rovio has released an updated Android version of Angry Birds Rio exclusively in the Amazon Appstore for Android with 30 new levels and, you guessed it, Blu is a playable character filled with feathered fury. 

Angry-birds-rio-blu

What does this mean for you?
The more customers we engage, the more opportunities we have to monetize your apps.  When we launched, we had the Android version of Angry Birds Rio exclusively in the Amazon Appstore.  As part of our launch marketing we advertised the Amazon Appstore and leveraged an Android exclusive of Angry Birds Rio as a hook across Amazon.com online, in mobile advertising, in social outlets, and more.  The results have been tremendous.
 
There will also be another marketing campaign surrounding the update of Angry Birds Rio exclusive on the Amazon Appstore.  Angry Birds Rio has a large and loyal fanbase, many of whom will come to the Amazon Appstore get the update and ultimately purchase other apps. 

When to consider updates:
There are many things to take into consideration when updating your app.  Here are some high level things to consider:

  • Does the customer want the update?  Customer forums can really help you here – check out what customers are saying and if there are themes (e.g. technical problems or content requests / suggestions) you should consider them.
  • Will the update improve the usability of the app?  This goes to the technical point above.
  • Is the update timely?  Angry Birds Seasons did a great job here.  Outside of holidays, other things to consider in timing are seasons – an update to a music app with built in holiday tunes could be cool in December, for example.

April 21, 2011

amberta

Appnation Next week we’ll be at the APPNATION conference in San Francisco on April 27 and 28 at Moscone Center South.  The conference is intended primarily for developers and entrepreneurs like you to learn and share best practices about getting exposure for and monetizing apps. 

Our very own Jon Fleming, head of business development, will be on a panel moderated by Noah Kravitz, editor-at-large for TechnoBuffalo, called “So Many App Stores, So Little Time” along with Jud Bowman, Appia CEO, and Trevor Cornwell, appbackr CEO. 

We’ve negotiated a discount of 50% off the full-conference, all-access pass to APPNATION 2011.  You can redeem this discount online with the priority code: “APDI50.”  The code is good until Tuesday, April 26th at 11:59pm.

We hope to see you there!

April 20, 2011

stcasey

Whether app development is your full-time gig, or a hobby you tinker with during nights and weekends, we want to thank you for making the Amazon Appstore for Android awesome. As with all things tech, the platform is changing quickly and we want to share with you some of our favorite Android development resources, so you can conquer whatever Android throws at you next. Whether you’re new to Android, or an old pro, we hope these featured titles will inspire you to continue making fun, useful, or quirky apps for all of us to enjoy!

The Android Developer’s Cookbook

The Android Developer’s Cookbook

Want to get started building applications for Android? Already building Android applications and want to get better at it? This book brings together all the expert guidance–and code–you’ll need! Completely up-to-date to reflect the newest and most widely used Android SDKs, The Android Developer’s Cookbook is the essential resource for developers building apps for any Android device, from phones to tablets.

Highlights include:

  • Recording and playing audio & video
  • Accessing location data via GPS
  • Testing & debugging apps throughout the development cycle

“Excellent book, saved me many hours of development time”
– Customer Review of Android Developer’s Cookbook

Android In Action 200x250

Android in Action

Android in Action prepares the reader to embrace the Android mobile platform in easy-to-understand language and builds on this foundation with reusable Java code examples. It's ideal for corporate developers and hobbyists who have an interest, or a mandate, to deliver mobile software. The Android application framework is thoroughly explained and discussed within the current competitive landscape. Following the release of Android 2.0, this edition has been updated to cover hot topics such as Bluetooth integration, web development strategies, AppWidget framework, sensor management, the Android Native Development Kit, and localization.

Highlights Include:

  • Using the filesystem
  • Drawing graphics in Android
  • Working with maps

“Highest recommendation”
– Customer Review of Android in Action

Android 2 App Dev 200x251
 

Professional Android 2 Application Development

Providing in-depth coverage of how to build mobile applications using the next major release of the Android SDK, this invaluable resource takes a hands-on approach to discussing Android with a series of projects, each of which introduces a new feature and highlights techniques and best practices to get the most out of Android. This update to the bestselling first edition dives in to cover the exciting new features of the latest release of the Android mobile platform.

Highlights Include:

  • Examines intents and content providers for sharing data
  • Create and use background services, notifications & alarms
  • Explores Bluetooth, telephony, and networking APIs

“Great book for someone trying to break into app development”
– Customer Review of Professional Android 2 Application Development

 

Pro Android 2 205x252
 

Pro Android 2

Pro Android 2 shows you how to build real-world and fun mobile applications using Google’s latest Android SDK. This new edition is fully updated for Android 2, covering everything from the fundamentals of building applications for embedded devices to advanced concepts such as custom 3D components, OpenGL, and touchscreens including gestures. While other Android development guides simply discuss topics, Pro Android 2 offers the combination of expert insight and real sample applications that work.

Highlights Include:

  • Create 3D graphics and OpenGL and custom components
  • Create and allow for more integrated local and web searches
  • Build handwriting gesture UIs

“Outstanding deep dive into Android 2.0”
– Customer Review of Pro Android 2

April 14, 2011

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

<p>We’d like to clear up some confusion about conflicting versions of our developer agreement. There are both PDF and plain text versions on our developer portal, and these versions didn’t agree. The PDF version was correct; the plain text version was old. This has now been fixed. The old plain text version was outdated and didn’t show the updates we made to the agreement last November, including that the definition of list price applies only to the app’s current price on a similar store. Thanks for making the store a success.</p>

April 14, 2011

amberta

In a previous post, we talked about automated marketing for apps in the Amazon Appstore for Android. On top of automated marketing, Amazon is constantly striving to achieve an excellent customer experience through timely merchandising of relevant products across Amazon.com. 

Occasionally, we can market apps from our store in other Amazon storefronts when the content is compelling and the right fit. This placement is a win-win for customers and developers. It brings relevant information to customers and can increase impressions and hopefully downloads of an app for developers. Here is an example of a “right roto,” or an ad that appears on the right of a page, for the TurboTax SnapTax app in Amazon’s tax storefront

  Snaptax-roto

On top of showcasing the TurboTax SnapTax app, we incorporated a “shoveler,” or a grouping of apps, onto the page where we’re displaying other tax-related apps that we think customers may find useful.  Here is a look at the entire page:

   Tax-page

So what makes an app the right fit for placement in other Amazon stores?   Bottom line, the app content must be relevant to and/or complement other content on a page in another Amazon store.  

April 12, 2011

Winkie Chen

The manifest of your Android app provides essential information about the app to the Amazon Appstore for Android. Your app must include an “AndroidManifest.xml” file in the root directory.

The Amazon Appstore uses the app manifest file to ensure we merchandise apps appropriately. Prior to submitting your app to Amazon, please ensure the manifest is packaged with your app and includes the following elements and data:

• VersionName: A string value that represents the release version of the application code, as it should be shown to users. The value is a string so that you can describe the application version as a <major>.<minor>.<point> string, or as any other type of absolute or relative version identifier. There is a hundred-character maximum on the length of the version name string.

• Uses-sdk: Tells us which OS the app runs on.

• Uses-configuration: Tells us which configuration is required by the app. (This element may be left empty if nothing is required.)

• Uses-feature: Tells us which features of the phone are used, such as the camera. (This section may be left empty if there are no required features.)

• Supports-screens: Tells us if the app supports large and/or high-intensity screens

• Uses-permissions: These are Android permissions and are required by the platform. (This should NOT be present if your app does not require permissions.)


Below is an example manifest structure with required elements in red:

<manifest versionName="string">

    <uses-permission />

    <permission />

    <permission-tree />

    <permission-group />

    <instrumentation />

    <uses-sdk />

    <uses-configuration />

    <uses-feature />

    <supports-screens />

     <application>

        <activity>

            <intent-filter>

                <action />

                <category />

                <data />

            </intent-filter>

            <meta-data />

        </activity>

         <activity-alias>

            <intent-filter> . . . </intent-filter>

            <meta-data />

        </activity-alias>

         <service>

            <intent-filter> . . . </intent-filter>

            <meta-data/>

        </service>

         <receiver>

            <intent-filter> . . . </intent-filter>

            <meta-data />

        </receiver>

        <provider>

            <grant-uri-permission />

            <meta-data />

        </provider>

         <uses-library />

    </application>

</manifest>
 

If you do not have any data for a certain element--for instance, if your app does not utilize any permission--you should remove that element entirely instead of leaving it empty.  Empty elements can cause issues in the ingestion process.  Also, make sure your app only requests permissions that it actually needs to function properly.  Unnecessary permission requests can cause a spyware or malware concern from a customer’s perspective.

If your manifest does not comply with this set of rules, it may be rejected directly by the Developer Portal or in the app approval phase.

You can find more information about the AndroidManifest.xml File on the Android Dev Guide:

http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/manifest/manifest-intro.html

March 31, 2011

amberta

If you have ever shopped at Amazon.com, you’ve likely seen “Customer Discussions” associated with features such as the Gold Box Deal of the Day, as well as individual items. Customer Discussions connects customers with each other to ask questions and share insights and opinions on Amazon.com about different products and services. 


As an app developer, you can benefit from the great opportunity Customer Discussions offers for interacting with customers who are interested in your app. You can answer customer questions, provide support, and collect feedback for futures releases.


While product detail pages give an overview of the app itself, and star ratings and reviews give high-level insight into what customers think, Customer Discussions is a place where customers can interact and talk about both the app and topics related to the app.


Here is an example of the Customer Discussions happening on the Shazam Encore app:

Customer Discussions
You’ll see the various discussions focus on music in this case, as the app is music-centric, and aren’t as much about the app itself. Even though the discussions are about the music and not about the app itself, they can provide valuable information about your customers’ taste, which you can use in marketing your app. Customers may also talk directly about the app in the Customer Discussions threads – here’s where you have the opportunity to glean information for potential app updates.

Wondering how to get started?  To post on Amazon forums, all you need to do is sign in to your Amazon account (the account must have at least one purchase on it) and start posting. We expect all of our customers to follow Amazon.com’s Conditions of Use and adhere to the discussion guidelines at all time. If you haven’t created a pen name already, we suggest you use a name that clearly indicates you are the creator of the app. To build customer trust, it is important that they be able to differentiate you from other customers. Finally, please keep in mind that Customer Discussions is not a place to start verbal wars. We want our developers to be a friendly, helpful resource for our customers. You can learn more about Customer Discussions online here.
 

March 24, 2011

peracha

With the rise in popularity of bar code-reader apps, QR Codes have become a convenient way of transferring text from media to mobile devices. A report published recently by MGH indicates that a growing number smartphone owners use the two-dimensional images to gain access to products and promotions.

A QR Code is a square, black and white image that contains standardized patterns to store text, in the same way that bar codes contain patterns for alphanumeric characters. The amount of encoded text can vary depending on the size of the QR Code image, but typically the text encoded is relatively short and takes the form of a URL. You may have seen the following options on our Get Started page to quickly give you access to the Amazon Appstore on your Android device:

Image001

As mentioned in a previous post, you can link directly to apps in the Amazon Appstore with a mobile-friendly URL. The URL can be represented as a QR Code, which can then direct potential customers on your website or blog to your app on the Amazon Appstore mobile client. For instance, the following link and corresponding QR Code will send users to the detail page for the Amazon MP3 App for Android:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/dl/android?p=com.amazon.mp3 

Image002

The following URL will invoke a search to find MP3 related apps on the Appstore:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/dl/android?s=mp3

Image003

Any QR Code generator that meets the ISO requirements will suffice. Some websites that can do this for you include Delivr, bit.ly, the URL shortening site, and Google.

March 23, 2011

amberta

We are excited to announce the US launch of the Amazon Appstore for Android. If you’ve already submitted your app(s) – thank you! We couldn’t have launched this store without your support. From Games to Utilities, we have apps to suit our customers’ many Android app wants and needs. 


Appstore-homepage
 
Over the past few months we have been sharing quite a bit of information about what you as a developer can utilize in the Developer Portal and in the Amazon Appstore itself. As you can see, we built the store to make it easy to find, discover and buy Android apps. We believe a more compelling customer experience will in turn result in better monetization.


Amazon Appstore highlights:

In true Amazon fashion, we’re making discoverability easier, which gets your apps in front of more customers. Specifically, we are offering a few unique features such as recommendations based on customers’ browse and purchase history. This is one of the automated marketing features we discussed previously.  Automated marketing includes placements in search results, browse based results, bestsellers, and more. We will also be doing ongoing promotional activity designed to attract new and repeat customers to the Amazon Appstore like the paid app for free promotion on the homepage. We have been working with many of you to line up quality apps for these programs, and we look forward to continuing to work with you to promote your titles.


Reporting in the Developer Portal:


Now that we’re live, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with Amazon Appstore reporting. You can find reporting once you log into your account in the Amazon Appstore Developer Portal. To view your reporting, log into the Developer Portal and click on the “Reports” tab.  You will see a page that looks like this:

Dev-portal-reporting

 
You should also submit any new apps or app updates. We encourage you to take advantage of the launch momentum to get your app(s) in front of customers as soon as possible.

March 13, 2011

amberta

If you love those birds and hate those pigs like we do, you will be pleased to hear that an all-new installment of the quirky bird pack is coming soon. The Android version of Angry Birds Rio, the follow up to the smash hits Angry Birds and Angry Birds Seasons, will launch exclusively in the Amazon Appstore. 


What does this mean for you?
More traffic, more customers! The Angry Birds franchise has been downloaded over 100 million times – the Android installed base is over 30 million . When we launch the Amazon Appstore, we will be teaming with Rovio to drive those customers to the store - which means more traffic to the Amazon Appstore and more customers for you.


In preparation for our store launch, we launched the Amazon Appstore for Android Facebook page and @amazonappstore Twitter handle today.  We’ll use these communication vehicles to engage customers, and we encourage you to Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay abreast of our consumer-focused messaging.  We will continue to post developer-centric news you can use on this blog and the @amznappstoredev Twitter handle.


The Amazon Appstore is launching very soon.  If you have not yet submitted your app, we encourage you to do so now to ensure your product is ready for launch!

AngryBird_Rio_AmazonAppstore_Android_Exclusive
 

March 10, 2011

ehansen

We’ve been sharing a lot of information about best practices for uploading your app(s) to the Amazon Appstore for Android, along with details on what the store will look like when we go live (which is soon).

Among the tools developers can utilize are the Amazon SimpleDB and the recently released Amazon Web Services (AWS) SDK for Android.

Developer Carmen Delessio’s success story may offer inspiration on how to take advantage of these two resources and submit new apps to the Appstore. Delessio is an Android app developer who has leveraged Amazon SimpleDB and AWS SDK for Android to build some of his apps.

In September of 2010, Delessio heard about the Sprint 4G App Challenge and decided to enter his updated version of BFF Photo Pro. Two months later, Sprint sent him an award notification.

Mainscreen
 

"At first, I literally did not believe it and began to check the info," Delessio said."I verified and was incredibly happy to learn that I was one of the five winners of $50,000."

His success has propelled him to continue developing new Android apps, with AWS providing a crucial backbone for his code. Along with BFF Photo Pro, Delessio has leveraged the AWS SDK and SimpleDB to build BFF Search, which allows users to easily search for people, topics, and events on Facebook. Both of his BFF apps will be available on the Amazon Appstore.  CarmenNatalieBFFPhotogalleryshot

He's also used the AWS services to build NYC Parks, an app based on the XML datasets available to the public by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. While swearing he's not contest crazy, Delessio entered the app in the NYC BigApps 2.0, a competition that seeks to make New York "more transparent, accessible, and accountable."

"We are in a place right now where your work, and the recognition for your work, defines your opportunities more than any other time that I can remember. It's a real meritocracy," observed Delessio, who is currently working with a Major League Baseball (MLB) data set to build an app that allows users to search for all the MLB games they’ve attended and share their stats over their social network. "This plays into the strengths of AWS; you have a great opportunity to make great apps with low expense. Structured data fits into SimpleDB well, and the AWS SDK allows you to access it and build (your app) with integrity: I don't have to think very much how it works, it just works."

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