Amazon Unlocked offers a plethora of Android apps and games for FREE

23 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amazon Leak Teases New ‘Unlocked’ Appstore.

Amazon may soon introduce a new service dubbed ‘Amazon Unlocked’ which will offer paid apps for free. The program would make certain apps and games (and all their in-app purchases) absolutely free, so long as the app or game remained in the “Unlocked” program.Amazon has been working hard to build up the popularity of its Android-based Appstore with consumers and developers — borrowing from the well-thumbed Amazon playbook of deep discounts to drive usage.

TechCrunch likens it to “Amazon Prime for apps,” though it looks to be an extension of the existing daily free app promotions Amazon runs on the its Appstore. Someone over at Amazon seems to have leaked an internal presentation to TechCrunch that spills some details on a new program Amazon is working on to bolster traffic to its own apps. Dubbed “Amazon Unlocked,” the initiative would reportedly create a new section in Amazon’s Appstore where users could get paid apps and any in-app items for these paid apps absolutely free. Other non-gaming apps listed in the deck include OfficeSuite 8 + PDF Converter — one of the more popular apps for reading and editing Microsoft Office apps on Android devices; and Ultimate Guitar Tabs & Chords.

As of now, developers have told that the project is still in development phase and all information is under NDA and hence, they cannot disclose anything regarding the app store. We don’t yet know if there’s any kind of catch for Amazon Unlocked—like, for example, if that’s a feature that’s only going to be built into users’ Amazon Prime memberships, or whether there would be any separate fee to access unlocked. TechCrunch, which learned about Amazon Unlocked through a leaked internal presentation, says there’s no timetable for Unlocked’s rollout, and that participating developers can’t discuss the program at the moment since they’re under a non-disclosure agreement. The one definite catch is that you’ll have to have installed Amazon’s shopping app onto your Android device in order to take part in the “unlocking” process—the actual means by which you get everything for free for a limited time.

This new service from Amazon is said to attract millions of mobile users to its app store and will also increase the usage of Amazon app, since the Unlocked service will be accessed only from the Amazon app. That’s limited as in “as long as developers are okay with it,” not time-limited in the sense that you would have a free game one day and lose access to it the next. When they do, the app still exists on Amazon’s Appstore; it just converts back to a paid-for app, and all in-app purchases transform back into paid elements.

But the basics are outlined simply enough in the presentation, which uses the code names “Gretzky” and “Snuffy” to respectively describe the new feature and user flow around it. (Why Gretzky and Snuffy? And hockey is a pretty good metaphor for how quickly users shoot and bounce from one app to another.) In a preamble to the presentation, the company sets out its objectives: the program needs to be clearly identifiable to users; the selected apps need to be obvious to users; and the apps are “conveyed as high value provided by Amazon.” There are also some interesting attempts at a less cluttered experience: “Customers should not feel overwhelmed by thousands of apps, but can get them if they need to,” the presentation notes. “Gretzky Gateway should operate primarily on algorithms rather than human touch.” To that end, Unlocked will get promoted prominently in Amazon’s own flagship app, and there are plans to use social networks and other platforms to promote Unlocked.

Amazon is no stranger to offering deep discounts — or free items — to users to drive more business to its products and services, whether it’s on pricing for books, or shipping and video content through Prime, or enterprise services through AWS. The move puts pressure on competitors that struggle to match the prices that Amazon offers — and Amazon wins by playing up the volume-based game of aggregating lots of revenues on thin margins, through economies of scale, and simply making their platform more sticky for users to come back for more. The company regularly offers a free daily app to users, and to mark the Amazon Appstore’s fourth birthday, the e-commerce giant is currently promoting a larger free bundle of 34 apps that usually cost between $0.99 and $9.95. As one outspoken developer pointed out back in 2011 when the Appstore first launched, for all the glory of 100k+ downloads, he didn’t see a penny of income from it. However, from what we understand this is not entirely true and there is some compensation in certain cases. “How popular the game is changes how much compensation you get,” one person says. “Amazon uses these free deals to lure people who use Android onto their store, so are more than happy to pay for these deals.” And if there are some who aren’t happy with “free” promotions, that hasn’t stopped the service from remaining a popular way to boost users.

Indeed, another developer I spoke to about Unlocked was very clear to ask to remain anonymous. “I like the free app promotion and hope to be included one day,” he said. This effectively means that developers who get nothing to begin with as the barrier to entry is lowered for new downloads, can hope to convert those users to paying customers when the wall comes back up. The company today is approaching 400,000 apps in its catalogue, but this still pales when compared to the 1.2 million apiece on Google Play or Apple’s App Store. It’s anyone’s guess, but as the company continues to look for ways to be relevant in the mobile economy, it will be one more way to try in what is likely to be a much wider, longer-term strategy.

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