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August 17, 2011

The Dust Has Settled

by shiftyjelly

It’s been just over two weeks since our post about our Amazon App Store experience, so we thought we’d give you a quick update:

  • We received A LOT of unexpected press coverage, everyone from Daring Fireball to podcasts like Tech News Today and Buzz Out Loud. Since our goal was to raise awareness of how the Free App Of The Day Promotion works, I think we’ve succeeded there. Anyone who thinks this was a calculated marketing ploy, clearly has very little idea about how clueless about marketing we are, and just how hard it is to get covered by some of these publications.
  • The next most amazing thing was the volume of people that wrote into us with their support, and their stories about how they had since purchased our app, and just how much they loved it. To each and every one of those people, we thank you, we really do. Let it never be said that Android users don’t pay for apps or care about developers.
  • There is still some confusion as to why we did what we did, and the answer is really simple: we were angry about the strict privacy Amazon enforces around these back door deals, and we wanted to expose them.
  • There’s no denying that other developers in the same situation as us, would have been jumping for joy at the exposure that 100,000+ downloads brings. More power to you, it may well be in some situations it would be a great thing.
A lot of people have also asked what the official response from Amazon has been. So far, nothing. The only correspondence we had from them was when we tried to remove our application:

Thank you for your message. We need to verify that you are removing the same app(s) from any Similar Services (defined as any Android OS application store which distributes in the U.S. and its territories and possessions) at the same time barring other agreements that may prevent you from listing the app(s) in the Amazon Appstore. Please refer to the Distribution Agreement for Amazon Appstore:

3.a. Delivery Commitment for Apps. You will deliver electronically to us and continue to make available during the Term all versions of all software applications, games or other digital products (including any special or collector’s editions) (i) that are designed for the Platform, (ii) for which you have the rights required under this Agreement, and (iii) that are the same versions and editions (except as otherwise provided in this Agreement) that you or your affiliates make available directly or indirectly to any Similar Service….

Please respond to confirm that your request for app(s) withdrawal is compliant with our policies. Once we hear back from you, we will verify and then let you know how we will proceed.

That’s right, they responded asking us to remove our application from the Google Market, and then they would let us know how they would proceed. Needless to say that creeped us out a bit, but again it’s a case of read the developer agreement (every last page of it) before signing up. Easy to say in retrospect, but admit it, how many developers out there read every single one Apple/Google send out to them before clicking ‘I Agree’?

Finally we gave up and asked them to terminate our developer agreement, a full week later, we received this response:

Thank you for your email requesting termination of your Amazon Appstore Distribution Agreement. Your account is terminated.

Feel free to read that in the ‘Arnie’ voice, it really does make it sound better. So far we’ve yet to figure out what being ‘terminated’ means, since we can still log into their admin area, and they still have our app in the ‘suppressed’ state. If that means new people can’t buy it, but people that have it currently can update to the latest version, then we’re all for that. If on the other hand it means one day they can just start selling it again, well you’d hope not, but at this stage nothing would surprise us.

Finally they sent us a cheque for around $700 representing 3 months worth of app sales, addressed to ‘RUSSELL RUSSELL’. It’s no doubt safe to assume that was a clerical error (since no Russell Russell works here), but I’d like to think they issued us a cheque we couldn’t bank as a final act of defiance, to show who The Boss really is. Sorry Jeff, want to hug and make up?

If you really haven’t had enough, then I think you could do far worse than watch Rob Woodbridge’s interview with our own Russell Ivanovic. It goes through the full history of our company up to this point, and why we did what we did. It really puts a human side to this whole nonsense, which is so often missed in reporting: [Flash Version]  [Direct Link]

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