Merchant Innovation

Developers Flee The Fire Phone

That customers did not fall in love with Amazon’s Fire Phone is well known. While that is bad news for a consumer product, it is still a situation that could, and did, get worse.

App developers are bailing on the Fire phone, according to reports in Geek Wire, citing too much investment of time and money to support the phone’s unique features without the hope of a payout at the end. The developers GW spoke to said that they are done with the Fire and will not be designing for future instantiations of it.

“Unfortunately we have not developed our Fire phone specific app any further since our initial focus on it for the phone’s launch,” said one developer. “The usage hasn’t been very high for us, and we’ve focused our Android efforts on other more valuable things.”

Another early Fire Phone app developer said: “I don’t think anyone is excited about developing for [the next Fire Phone]. It sure isn’t on our priority list right now since version one is sucking wind.”

Amazon’s response to questions by the news source yielded general affirmations that it has a very strong relationship with the developer community, while citing some specific testimonials that Amazon developers make more money on their Fire phone apps then they do designing for Android or iOS.

“Amazon Appstore is a fantastic platform for us and continues to get better,” said Paul Case of TribePlay, in a statement. “Through Amazon we’ve been able to reach a whole new demographic and really succeed with them.”

Amazon is also fairly active with its developers, providing tutorials and advice for how to launch applications on their platform. Moreover, because Amazon devices, including the popular Kindle Fire (as well as the less loved Fire Phone) run on a modified version of Android,  it generally isn’t that hard for companies to adapt their existing app to the Fire Phone.

Amazon’s customer base is considered valuable despite being small according to Kevin Flynn, co-founder of Mobile Game Partners, a firm that advises companies on how to market their mobile games across platforms.  He noted that Amazon users have the potential to generate five times as much as a typical Android user.

“Their users are comfortable spending online. We’ve had some games make some decent revenue. It’s totally worth it. I always encourage [developers] to go ahead and put it on Amazon even though it’s a limited market. It’s a valuable user base,” he said.

However, supporting the Fire phone by simply porting over a standard Android app and designing to the phone’s unique features (3-D viewer, etc) are not the same.  The latter is a greater resource for Amazon, as it drives more users to the phone.

Which, thus far, Amazon remains committed to leaving in the market – noting it as a “multi-year, multi-decade” initiative for the company.



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