If you’re going to develop an application around the idea of ongoing micro-transactions, and many people have chosen to do exactly that, then the most important consideration is likely going to be smooth integration of payment options. Amazon used the essence of this in the creation of the Kindle Fire itself. The whole tablet is basically a way for customers to get the content they want without thinking too hard about where or how to get it, all while keeping the actual act of purchase as unobtrusive as possible. Until now, however, app developers wanting to cater to Kindle Fire users have been unable to turn this to their own advantage.
We know they have been looking into making this happen for quite some time, but apparently now we have some confirmation of active testing being done in preparation for a more large-scale roll-out. One of the founders of Skimble Inc, the maker of some physical fitness programs that have been involved with the pilot, revealed some of the details.
There will be both individual purchase options and the ability to set up a subscription. This will be handy for newspapers following Amazon’s recent recommendation that potential newspaper submissions set up their own apps rather than getting into the Kindle Store’s selection. Amazon’s cut on every sale will be the same 30% they take on eBooks and app sales in general.
This opens up whole new avenues of income both for Amazon and for app developers participating in their Android app store. Currently anybody looking for regular income from their users is forced to either sell ad space in free apps or arrange some sort of non-integrated system for content purchases. It is a smart move that puts the company in a much better position to capitalize on the Kindle Fire and Android app sales in general.
This is not a trivial thing to get going. Amazon absolutely needs to get things right. There have already been complaints about their parental controls thanks to poorly functioning and completely missing options in the initial release of the Kindle Fire. Users need the assurance that this will not be an issue in the future.
Many will remember the iPad in-app spending horror stories resulting from unrestricted purchasing options. Children were able to charge thousands of dollars buying virtual goods with no notice or warning screen until Apple came up with more refined controls. Such have not been nearly as necessary for the Kindle Fire before now, but adding this feature to the system will require some changes.
While Amazon has the best selling Android tablet on the market today, they have the smallest of the three major tablet app stores. Part of that is the heavy oversight they keep in place to ensure quality control among their offerings, but a lot is also lack of developer interest. While developers are likely to make significantly more on their app sales through Amazon than through Google Play, the initial sale is not the only source of income for many companies. If Amazon gets this working, and working well, it could lead to a huge boom in Kindle Fire app-building.