Seattle-based online retailer Amazon launched its Mobile Associates Application Programming Interface program on Tuesday. Developers for the company’s Android-based and Kindle app store will receive a 6% cut each time an item is purchased through their apps. The program is an extension of the Amazon Associates program launched in 2005, in which websites that direct traffic to Amazon.com recieve a 10% cut of purchases made within 24 hours.
The revenue offering is part of Amazon’s plan to attract talented developers to its mobile application store, which launched in 2011 with 3,800 apps. The operation has since expanded to 170 countries and 75,000 apps. The number, however, is still minuscule compared to Google’s 800,000 apps — and fails even to clear the benchmark set by Windows Store, which hit a 100,000 app milestone in July.
Compared to others who tried to topple the Android and iOS dominancy in app, Amazon’s strategy is particularly aggressive. BlackBerry manufacturer RIM, for example, simply emphasized the simplicity of creating apps for its software to appeal to developers for the iOS and Android system. Microsoft is in the process of creating its Windows phone app studio to give its developers more scalability (for cross-device apps) and ease of use.
Amazon’s aggressive strategy could attract developers looking for a higher profit ceiling than their shares from from iTunes and Google Play, which don’t have affiliate programs. But this research by Forrester, if accurate, suggests a downside: consumers don’t want apps loaded with ads, and that is exactly what the new Amazon program provides an incentive to create. And since user-base growth at the moment looks pretty promising for Amazon — as of March, Amazon’s top 200 paid apps were downloaded 1.6 million times; Google’s top 1000 paid apps were downloaded approximately twice as often, according to research firm Distimo — the online retail giant is facing a near impossible call.