Amazon is known for its store. Not its app store. But the company has ambitions on the app front. In May 2013, the online retailer launched its Android app store in 195 countries including India. Parag Gupta, who joined as the Country Head for Amazon Appstore in India is trying to get more developers and users to use the Amazon Appstore to sell and buy apps. With free developer tools and a promise for better monetization, Gupta feels that the company can cut a slice of the App pie for itself. Edited Excerpts from an Interview:
You launched the app store in India in May 2013. What has been the progress?
It was always open to Indian developers. In May, it became available to Indian users. While we don’t expect to beat the number one or two store in the next 6 months, we are on the right trajectory. This is a long term bet for us. Having a team in India has helped us get a lot of Indian developers onboard. It helps us get a lot of local selection.
From a user perspective, it has been a major improvement. Indian users were using Amazon before the actual Indian launch. Users get a local experience. We are doing a lot of marketing, cross promotions and such.
What is the local response?
We don’t do for India by India. We give Indian users a global platform. For developers this is a global market. If you take the top 200 apps, you would rarely see local apps in there. Most developers are looking to tap into the global market. For a lot of them, especially for games, the market is outside India.
What are your goals as the India team?
Our objectives are to see how we can make Indian developers popular in the global market and how do we get Indian users to download our global catalog.
What is your top agenda this year?
One is to keep on the trajectory that we are on. Second is to build awareness. Developers are aware of the app store but users are not. The third goal is to help developers get better average revenue per user on Amazon as compared to other platforms.
NextBigWhat for Amazon App Store?
Mobile associates, a service from Amazon really has the potential to change app monetization. Developers can sell goods from our catalog (any products on Amazon retail) without leaving the app experience. This will play an important role in improving monetization.
More of an affiliate sales model?
Yes. With Mobile Associates, you are earning an associate fee of 6-8% on very high value items as compared to digital goods. What if you could offer a gamer to buy the We are the Champions DVD when someone unlocks the 20th level of your game? It could bring additional revenues right?
But a developer can only sell from the Global site..
It is not really a restriction if you look at it. Most of the developers have their users in the US. For instance when Reliance made the Hunger Games app, they could have sold Hunger Game T-shirts from Amazon. We will expand and bring more catalogs in.
Will you integrate Mobile Associates with the Indian site anytime soon?
We could do other countries but I can’t comment on it as a public company. India is a tier 1 country for Amazon and we are here for the long haul.
Smartphones have their own app stores by default. And developers aren’t exclusive to Amazon. How do you make sure people buy from Amazon?
We rely on selection, great deals and customer experience. Those principles we religiously follow. We’ve got different deals going on as bundles and such.The market is big enough so we don’t need just one big player. This is not a zero sum game. To succeed, I don’t have to defeat everyone. We also come with a trustworthy environment. For example, no one can game our reviews. That builds trust.
What are the other levers you have to bring developers to the platform?
Discoverability is the other one. We have a very powerful recommendation engine which helps discovery. We have better monetization. There are third party studies on it. It is a factor of better discovery. Amazon users are comfortable buying online.
Finally, we try and lower the cost the app for the developer throughout its life cycle. We have Amazon analytics, Test Services (A/B Testing), Test Drive and such. For a developer, it saves costs. He doesn’t have to go and take three different analytics services, pay for it and figure out users. Our reports are extremely detailed.
What are the challenges specific to the Indian app market?
The penetration of credit cards is very different from our successful markets. There are also infrastructure and device issues. By and large, India is still a very global market.
[Interested in app space? Do join us for the next edition of bigMobilityConf, scheduled for APril 26th/Bangalore]