April 19, 2014

[Opinion] The ShiftyJelly Saga and What I've Learned


By now you may have read the blog/rant “Amazon App Store: Rotten to the Core.” This blog rant was written by developers ShiftyJelly and takes on the pros and cons (well more cons really) of the Amazon App Store and its “Free App of the Day” program. This piece has been making its way around the intrawebs garnering all sorts of opinions and backlash. A lot of people are criticizing ShiftyJelly and their motives, asking “why?” Why are they ranting about policies that they were made clear of beforehand and that they ultimately agreed to? Before I go on, here is a link to the blog for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about.

Okay, now that you have had the chance to read over the article, let me give you my opinion on the subject (even if you don’t want it). First off, from a developer prespective, they knew what they were getting into. There were no surprises, everything was presented to them (sometimes in bold) before they went ahead and agreed to the terms. Reading the article has made me realize how crappy of a deal developers are getting when they decide to join Amazon’s app store but never-the-less it is a crappy deal these developers have agreed to. Do I agree with proponents of “they’re idiots for signing up?” Yes. Do I feel sorry for them? A little. Do I think their rant is rubbish? Absolutely not!

The ShiftyJelly rant opened up my eyes to a huge misconception among the Android community regarding Amazon’s free app of the day promo. It seems many people, including myself, believed Android developers were in fact getting paid from FAOTD downloads. There are a significant number of people who have downloaded FAOTD apps with no intention of ever using them, they simply did it to support developers. I can honestly tell you I have yet to purchase a single app from the Amazon App Store. Any app I have purchased has been through the Android Market for the simple fact that I do not want my apps to stop working should I ever decide to stop using the Amazon App Store. Any app I have from the Amazon App Store has come from the FAOTD promotion. I used to feel good about downloading the FAOTD, I was not only getting a free app but also helping support the developer. I now know this to be untrue thanks to the ShiftyJelly rant.

When trying to make sense of all of this I can only come to the conclusion that Amazon’s FAOTD promo is only beneficial to developers whose apps are ad-supported or include in-app purchases. Developers take heed when deciding whether or not to sign up with Amazon, and for us consumers, the realization that developers are receiving zip, zilch, zero for any app featured in Amazon’s FAOTD, will this change our minds about downloading these freebies? Probably not, but I, for one, am grateful for the ShiftyJelly Saga. It has cleared up some misconceptions, inspired debate, and forced us all to become a little more conscious about where we get our apps. So regardless of your intentions, ShiftyJelly, I thank you!

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