Amazon is getting into the virtual currency game. The e-commerce giant today announced a new program called Amazon Coins that Kindle Fire owners will be able to use to purchase apps, games and in-app purchases in the Amazon Appstore for Android. Amazon Coins will go live in May in the United States.
Virtual currency is nothing new in the app world. Many game developers already employ it within their own apps to make in-app purchases and upgrade to new features. Facebook also employs its own virtual currency, Facebook Credits, which can be used in apps (like buying new features in a Farmville-style game) or other features on the social platform.
Developers that want to be able to use Amazon Coins for their titles in the Appstore need to have their apps submitted to Amazon by April 25.
Amazon said that it will give away tens of millions of Amazon Coins to consumers upon launch. Users will be able to purchase more Coins through Amazon's purchasing system.
Building An Economy
Amazon Coins is yet another avenue that the e-commerce company is moving horizontally through the app economy. The company continues to push out new developer tools and services (to varying degrees of adoption and success) over the last year to drum up more publisher interest in the Appstore. It released a maps plugin late in 2012 along with in-app purchasing from PCs and Web-based games, Game Circle and Connect and A/B testing.
In many ways, Amazon’s expansion of its developer tools, monetization and feature functions is similar to what BlackBerry and Microsoft have tried to do with the BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone platforms. These three companies are chasing Apple and Google when it comes to the volume and quality of apps available in their app stores and are doing everything they can to get more publishers to their platforms.
The Kindle Fire is the dominant Android tablet in the U.S. with near 33% of the market compared to Samsung Tabs/Notes and Nexus 7. Amazon has not released any specific sales numbers for the Fire series but corollary evidence from analytics services like Localytics shows that it is doing moderately well.
Developers: are you going to employ Amazon Coins in your apps? What do you think of Amazon’s mobile developer services? Does it make you more interested in developing for the Kindle Fire? Let us know in the comments.
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