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Amazon Introduces New Monetization Model for Android Apps

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Amazon has introduced a new mobile app monetization model dubbed Amazon Underground and linked with their own Amazon app store. The new model provides “actually free” apps to customers while developers are paid based on how long their apps are used.

Android users can access Amazon Underground through the omonymous app, which will give them access to over US$10,000 in apps and in-app purchases that have been made available for free up to now. Amazon will pay developers $0.0020 in royalties per each minute their apps are used on the US, British, German, and French marketplaces.

Amazon Underground’s monetization model is novel in the mobile app arena and is similar to that used with the Kindle Unlimited subscription. Mobile app stores have traditionally offered distinct models for monetizing an app. According to a stats by Statista, the two most-used monetization models are ads – which can be instertitial ads, banners, or video ads – and in-app purchases, also known as the freemium model. Other major models are premium, where you pay for downloading the app, and subscription.

Developers can submit their apps to Amazon Underground provided they comply with specific eligibility requirements, such as being available as a paid or freemium app in some app store, not containing any in-app purchase, not being feature-clamped, etc. Exceptions will be allowed on a case-by-case basis, but Amazon will have the final word as to which apps will make it into Amazon Underground.

According to TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet, Amazon Underground is an interesting move and it could provide an effective monetization model, on the one end stopping the “race to the bottom” in app prices, and on the other freeing users from the annoying experience of in-app purchases, or paid upgrades, and the related wait.

The Amazon Underground Android app requires a huge set of application permissions, from location to audio recording, from sending SMS messages to writing to external storage, that has spurred some concerns. Another order of concerns relates to Amazon’s payback to developers, since at a $0.002 per minute rate, it will require 500 minutes of use to reach $1.

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