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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2014
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Amazon Offers Unity Plugins to Kindle Fire Developers

Amazon has been making an effort to interest app developers, especially game developers, in their distribution platform lately.  As has been mentioned here in the past, their GameCircle will allow for all sorts of social features to be integrated into just about any game without much trouble.  Before this, many of the more popular Android games were unable to make use of their full feature set because of the Kindle Fire’s disconnection from Google services.

Moving forward along the same lines, Amazon has released plugins for the popular Unity game engine that should make it easier than ever for developers to add some in-app purchasing to their productions and build GameCircle into their games.

There are a number of reasons that this will be attractive.  According to the press release regarding these plugins, in-app purchasing averages more than twice the revenue generation of paid app sales per transaction.  Developers who can interest their users enough to encourage the occasional purchase will benefit from ongoing sales and therefore enjoy a fairly nice stream of income.

The GameCircle features help with this.  GameCircle’s main attractions are Leaderboards, Achievements, and Whispersync for Games.  The first two are easy ways to nudge players into spending more time immersed in the app.  More exposure and more personal time investment means more likelihood of making a casual purchase.  The latter feature, Whispersync for Games, encourages use of multiple devices and allows players to pick up where they left off even if they delete local data.  That means that there is a far lower bar to replay should somebody be interested in running through their favorites a second time.

This will be both good and bad for the players, but mostly good.

By bringing these features to the Kindle Fire, Amazon has finally provided all the tools that developers will need to properly prepare their apps for distribution via the Amazon Appstore for Android.  This will lead to more games, and apps in general, being made available for the Kindle Fire.

Whispersync for Games should go a long way to encourage quality game design as well.  Since there is reason to hope that users will keep coming back now that their progress and achievements can be saved even after deleting an app temporarily, there is more reason to provide ongoing support and updates.

Of course the ease with which in-app purchases can be offered also means a slew of new apps meant to do nothing more than milk microtransactions out of every user.  These types of lazy designs are a big presence on Google Play, but there’s been nothing keeping them away from Amazon aside from the extra effort it would take.  I’m not referring to the genuinely malicious software, of course, but even the merely bad can be obnoxious to watch out for.

Expect to see more games with more features springing up in the months to come thanks to these plugins.

Amazon Appstore Expansion Indicates Kindle Fire is Nearly Ready For International Release

Amazon recently announced that they are now interested in developer submissions of Android apps for the international expansion of the Amazon Appstore for Android.  Those who are interested can now submit via the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal in order to be ready for the expansion.  This summer the Appstore is expanding to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.  Beyond that there are apparently plans for more, but even a handful of new markets should generate a big surge in popularity for the Appstore in general and the Kindle Fire in particular.

The Kindle Fire has to be what this is all about, of course.  We are expecting the next iterations of the Kindle line, both tablet and eReader, before the summer is out.  Although their first Android tablet has started to lose some of its initial popularity, it is clear that Amazon has a great deal invested in the idea of mobile devices integrated into their media distribution system.

Because of its integration, however, selling the Kindle Fire outside the US has seemed problematic at best.  Amazon has a lot going for them, but media rights need to be established in any country the company chooses to support.  That means not just books as with the Kindle eReaders but also movies, television, music, and apps.

Getting the apps will probably be the easiest part for this effort.  By setting up a portal by which Android developers can submit their applications, they are actually setting up an interesting alternative to Google Play.  Google has had a few incidents with regard to paying their international developers (mostly failing to pay them, actually) that makes an alternate major app store with a proven record huge news.

There are no estimates yet on exactly when the Kindle Fire will be offered outside the United States.  It even makes some sense to question whether Amazon will bother marketing the existing model at all.  With a newer high resolution model supposedly on the way, as well as a larger version set to follow soon after, waiting an extra month or two to make sure to put the best product forward might be the smart move.

The Appstore for Android has already proven itself able to provide better returns for developers than its Google counterpart.  It’s true that many find the extra oversight and extended review process to be painful, occasionally to the point of refusal, but that has not stopped the store from growing rapidly over the past year.  Customers seem to value the higher submission standards, if nothing else.

Will this be enough to revive interest in the Kindle Fire?  That’s hard to say.  With Windows 8 right around the corner and Apple surely waiting to one-up any competition as soon as they are able to justify it financially, it’s an unsettling time to be selling Android tablets.  Because of Amazon’s break with Google’s standard interface and store, as well as the ecosystem integration, they stand somewhat apart from the Android crowd and might be able to survive even if interest in Android falls abruptly.  The next Kindle Fire is going to have to be impressive to regain the kind of market share that it had at the end of 2011, though.

Kindle Fire Ads May Be More Productive than Their iPad Counterparts

When it comes to selling advertising space, it makes sense that bigger is better.  Billboards reach more people than bus stop ads.  That may not translate entirely to the tablet PC, however.  In a recent report, mobile advertising company Jumptap revealed that Kindle Fire ads are the most successful at getting customers to click through, despite the relatively smaller screen space they have to work with compared to the competition.

It seems that while the iPad has had the most success for its advertisers up until now, with .9% of those who view a given ad choosing to click through to the product, the Kindle Fire has already bumped itself up to 1.02%.   That is nearly twice the success rate that the closest non-Apple competition has enjoyed, as shown by the Jumptap graphic to the right.

This actually seems to support the general trend for those who choose to invest in the Kindle Fire.  We have already seen that Android developers enjoy something like three times the income through Amazon that the same app tends to bring in through Google’s own marketplace.  Now advertisers are learning the same thing.  Perhaps the only truly surprising bit of information here is that the Kindle Fire beat out the iPad.  As mentioned, shouldn’t bigger ads be better ads?

The Jumptap theory is that this is the result of a generation gap.  Kindle Fire owners are significantly more likely to be in the 45 to 64 year old range, which differs from iPad owners who are far more likely to come from the 18 to 34 year old range.  They suggest that while these older users are generally less likely to buy products on the device itself, potentially limiting the impact of some ad campaigns, it is worth coming up with ads optimized for the Kindle Fire’s smaller screen in order to take advantage of the click-through rate.

To illustrate, they used the example of fast food advertisements.  It seems these were tending to catch much more attention on weekends than during the week, but they are obviously the sort of small, quick graphic that can appeal to any demographic even when the product isn’t something offered through a given device.

Since we have a wealth of information available to properly tailor ads to their recipients in many cases, it seems like we have reached the point where size doesn’t matter.  Or at least a point where size matters less.  We can’t predict yet what effect a larger Kindle Fire will have on this data when Amazon gets around to releasing one, so it might just be a matter of Amazon customers being more predisposed to click on ads they find potentially interesting for all I know.

It’s always going to be up to developers to decide how best to monetize their product and this once again shows that Amazon’s platform is a superior choice.  The more we see of this, the more likely we are to see wider adoption of the Amazon Appstore for Android.  As a Kindle Fire user, even one who hates these very ads, that means this comes across as good news.