Amazon to Debut Virtual Currency in Bid to Amp up Apps (Feb. 7, 2013)
Feb. 7, 2013
Online retail giant Amazon is looking to beef up its app offerings, and to help with the goal, the company is turning to virtual currency. Set to be released in May, Amazon Coins can be used to buy apps from the Amazon Appstore and to make in-app purchases via Amazon’s Kindle Fire mobile tablet. The company said it initially will give away “tens of millions of dollars’ worth” of Coins to spur usage by customers and, in turn, compel app developers to devise more and better apps for the Amazon Appstore—which has lagged behind Apple and Google’s app offerings—to meet the increased demand.
Developers will continue to keep their usual 70 percent cut of the revenue from the sale of an app purchased with Amazon Coins. No integration is required on the part of developers, but an app must be submitted and approved by April 25 to be available in the Appstore when the new currency is released. After the initial Coin giveaway, Amazon customers will be able to purchase Coins at a rate of one cent per Coin. The currency only will be available for use by U.S. customers for now, Amazon said.
The virtual currency announcement comes nearly a year after Amazon debuted in-app purchasing, another bid to ramp up its app offerings by motivating developers, who keep a 30 percent share of in-app purchases made with users’ Amazon accounts. That and other efforts have helped grow Appstore’s offerings to 68,000 apps, compared to just 4,000 when the store launched in March 2011. But that remains a far cry from the 700,000 apps offered in each of Apple’s and Google’s stores.