Amazons Test Drive Feature

So my app can now be “test driven” on Amazon’s site. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Essentially you can use the paid app for free as much as you want on a computer. I’m not sure if parents would really want to do that with my app, but it is an option. There is a 10 minute limit, but once you reload it, you get another 10 minutes. I would be fine with 10 minutes total. That is essentially how Google Play works with their 15 minute return policy. I like that feature it is a good marketing point. But never ending 10 minute trials seems too much.

I don’t know, Amazon makes you give up a lot of control in their terms of agreement.

What do you think? Do you think I’ll get noticeably less sales because of this. Not like I am getting a huge amount now. Just a handful a week.

Eventually they’re planning to extend this feature to the phone as well. So you’ll be able to Test Drive apps on your phone without purchasing. I think this raises a lot of questions. As you say, some people might just use the app demo, without ever downloading the full version. But I don’t think that’s really a huge issue - it’s too inconvenient to make much sense for most apps.

I think more of an issue is how to handle In-App Payments. Is it even possible to make an app function differently in Test Drive mode to what it would normally? If not, developers could run into a lot of difficulties with purchases, advertising impressions, analytics & the like.

Why would anyone purchase the full version if they can just keep using the demo infinitely? My app runs pretty well in the simulator. No reall need to purchase. I’m sorta okay with it now, because it is stuck on the computer but if they put it on the phone… Third party advertising and in-app purchases aren’t really considered appropriate for kids apps (among many parents including myself), and depending on what congress does, may even become illegal without parent consent.

I think they need to fix it so that there is a one time time limit, not a reseted time limit every time you load it.

Secondly there does seem to be a time lag with the sound. Problems in the simulator may be deemed problems with your app by customers. :S I think you should be able to opt out of it. If it affects your only monetization strategy, or if it doesn’t perform well in the simulator…

That’s an important point - to be honest, there ARE users, who don’t know that this thing is emulated - or even know what “emulated” means…

I also would suggest an option to opt out of that - especially when someone is also offering a free version (or a demo) - I would much more like to get some attention on a free version instead of sending traffic over the an emulated full version.

That may be a good feature if you are only offering a paid version and don’t want to maintain a demo r free version - than it is a good thing.

On the other hand … if someone keeps refreshing the Test Drive Site every 10 Minutes … would definitily not buy the app, no matter if he can test drive it or not.

That was my first thought, but since its only on one market you probably would make the free version anyway.

That is probably true.

Amazon always tended to think, that they were alone on the planet sometimes … I don’t like them, because you can’t pay with paypal for example - because they think they have the only payment solution necessary for the planet. And I am pretty sure, that they do the same with their app store - just ignoring that the world is bigger than amazon xD

Great points being raised here everyone. Very important and real concerns. I’m sure we’re just seeing the first iteration of this and Amazon will surely find a way to make it work eventually.

This has happened every time free trials or samples or “freemium” models have been introduced. Most people get terrified of giving away their stuff for free thinking that people will stop buying, but in the end people always do, and it’s more than made up for by the larger amounts of exposure we get.

Now in this case, the problem is that Amazon is giving unrestricted free access to everyone. So this is the equivalent of Amazon offering you to stream a whole movie DVD for free if you just agree to push a button every 10 minutes. I’m sure a lot of people will still buy it to avoid that inconvenience, but it’s probably giving away a little too much. Same in this case, there has to be a restriction…

However, many major internet companies are now claiming to be getting more traffic from mobile devices than from computers. It seems to me that this change will eventually not matter much because people won’t want to be tied to a computer, they’ll still want to get the app on their phone so they can play in the bus, at work or at school or wherever they want, and share it with their friends.

The short-term solution I’d offer would be (surprise!) in-app purchases. Even if the payments aren’t working on the emulator yet, this means people can’t use the whole app for free. If you just code the app to deny access to certain areas unless people pay through microtransactions, then Amazon can give away the app for free if they want, but users won’t get to use all of the functionality for free. So in a way you can get around Amazon and not give users any premium functionality for free. So I guess we have a new reason not to have conventional “paid” apps, and to charge people through microtransactions instead…

hm - after all amazon is also interested to make money by selling apps - not by giving them away for free.
Maybe we should obey a little bit more in the marketing geeks at amazon - they have done something right in the past, maybe they do again.

That said, I have to mention also, that amazon may try to get some feet into the android market door and that’s the reason why they throw out (foreign) content to accomplish that goal.

Sure in the end, the dev benefits from it when amazon is a “big” market also … but also true is, that the dev can also walk away and use the market which already exists and does not give out free content.

As from my numbers, I can tell that amazon seems to work better with paid apps than google - but google works far better with free apps than amazon.

In the end it could happen, that amazon aims for the paid app market, leaving google with the free and freemium models.

Whatever - the in-app-purchase model as mentioned by kiwicoco seems to be the best approach of all the different monetization models in terms of revenue and also in terms of workload for the dev.

I stil wish there were an api for that issue which is officially allowed by google and amazon … :slight_smile:

I’d think of this more like Amazon giving people the chance to watch a whole DVD for free - but only if they restart from the beginning every 10 minutes. :slight_smile: Sure, some people might go through the process, try to remember where they were, and quickly skip back to that spot to continue watching the movie again. But ultimately you don’t want to be booted back to the main menu of a game every 10 minutes, and then have to work through all the levels again (if it’s a level-based game).

This will be more of an issue for some games than others, of course. But I reckon in-app payments would help a lot, as you mentioned.

Overall though, I’d be slightly wary of anything like this from Amazon. I’ve heard of many developers who were featured as Amazon’s “Free App of the Day” and received pretty much zero revenue from it. And for those who had server backends, it actually resulted in a net revenue loss for them, because they suddenly had thousands of new users who hadn’t paid for the app!

Amazon seem to be very focussed, but I’m not sure it’s developers they’re focussed on. It seems to be more a matter of building market share for Amazon’s platform, even if it’s at the expense of developer revenue. Of course it’s great for users in the short term (who wouldn’t want to get a premium app for free!), but in the long term could cause developers to abandon the platform if it’s not handled with discretion & due diligence.

Oh they are definitely not focused on the developers. They are renowned for selling books at less than cost to undercut the competition, not only that, but they expect the content providers and publishers to take part of the loss as well. I love the convenience they offer, but their business practices are not fair IMO.

Well the last couple days have had an increase in sales. Still only a handful of though. Probably due to more exposure since only a small amount of apps have the feature right now. We’ll see if it continues.