Recently there was an open letter to Amazon from Bithack, a mobile developer in Sweden, announcing that they were pulling their title from Amazon’s App Store and detailing what led to that decision. You can see the letter here (http://bithack.se/news/apparatus-amazon-july-4-2011.html) but we’ll summarize in a moment. ”What does this have to do with the Kindle store?”, you may ask. I hope nothing, but it’s worth looking at what lead to Bithack’s decision and looking into whether or not the same things could happen on the Kindle store.
Whether you realize it or not, many of the Android and mobile developers in the industry are the same teams creating content for Kindle. If the practices of Amazon’s Android group are replicated by the Kindle group we could see these teams pulling out of the Kindle market as well.
Review and Testing. The first issue dealt with the review process for Android apps and this includes the QA from Amazon as well. Two weeks is not the worst I’ve seen in the industry but there are other points here that I want to look at. If the app was kicked for something as simple as what we see here, that IS annoying to a developer, no question about it. However, the fact that their app was released and they had no idea where to find it is something we see on the Kindle store and it is a major issue. You have to dig to find content, there’s no way of knowing when something new comes out and that hurts customers and developers. No one makes money when no one knows an app exists so this is an issue we can already see on the Kindle store.
Failures in device testing. I have no knowledge of how Amazon does it’s testing and QA for the Android. I do know from owning an Android phone and using the Android market that you can tell a customer whether an app is approved for their phone. The good news is there are only three Kindle models, not the 100′s you see on Android. The bad news is they do have different hardware. At the moment all the apps on the store work on all the Kindle models, that’s fine for the moment but as time progresses that will not be the case. Better devices will enable better applications, having everything be fully backwards compatible will backfire in the end and handicap future development. At the moment though, this isn’t an issue and isn’t something that should concern consumers.
Customer Contact. Being able to reach your consumers is a big part of a small developer’s recipe for success. The entire point of being independent and not relying on a publisher is to be able to have a good relationship with your fans and customers. Amazon does not allow anyone to remove reviews or comments unless they are offensive. This means that there is little recourse for a developer to comment on a review that is wrong or help a customer in need. There is a comment system in place and a forum system but we rarely see that used. The developer in this case brings up an issue that a customer posted which in turn led to a loss of sales due to points that weren’t caused by the developer and were out of their control. These are some of the same issues that Kindle developers face and we could easily see this causing issues on the Active Content store.
The issues on the Android store are a cause of concern to Kindle customers and Kindle developers. There’s enough correlation here that these issues on the Android store could cause problems for Kindle developers if they are handled in a similar matter. However, the Kindle store is new, there aren’t even 100 apps on that store yet. There’s plenty of room to make sure these developer concerns from the Android store never surface on the Kindle store.
If there are any Kindle developers out there that would like to weigh in on this (on or off the record) we’d love to hear your thoughts.