Android developer slams Amazon Appstore

Swedish game developer Bithack has blasted the Amazon Appstore calling it 'horrible' and 'a disaster'.

The independent Swedish company, which created popular physics-based construction game Apparatus, says it will be pulling the title from the Amazon Appstore after what it calls a frustrating litany of delays, mistakes and incompetence on the part of the book-selling behemoth.

The trouble started when Bithack submitted the code to Amazon, which follows a manual submission process much like that of Apple.

"This gives the impression of a more serious app store, but whether or not it is actually needed for apps for the Android platform is a discussion in itself," bemoans the company's CEO Emil Romanus. "In my opinion, the users should be educated about the very sophisticated permission system on Android instead."

The developer also describes the submission process as "very slow" pointing out that, after a two-week wait, he had to start the whole process over again after discovering that HHTP rather than HTTPS had been used for a session cookie. After adding a single 'S' to the code, the app had to be re-submitted taking another week to finally make it onto the Appstore.

Even then, the game was, according to Romanus, all but impossible to find.

"We couldn't find Apparatus anywhere, it was completely hidden. They have no 'Just In' section like Android Market. The 'New Releases' section was identical to the 'Top Rated' section.

After a phone call, which resulted in the game becoming 'Free App of the Day', and being listed in the 'Popular Games' section which is supposed to be chosen by Amazon staff based on their own experiences, the problems persisted.

Despite filtering the app so it would not play on a number of low-powered devices and those with smaller screens, Amazon allowed Apparatus to be installed on any handset regardless of the carefully-considered device filter.

All of which resulted in an avalanche of terrible reviews from angry users who should never have been allowed to install the game in the first place.

A sample one-star review reads: "This app wouldn't even open on my Motorola Comet and went straight to a force close so I cant even try it."

"I researched this device, he must be referring to the T-Mobile Comet, part of the Motorola U8* 'series'," says Romanus. "There are several of these, U8110, U8150, U8100, etc. I think the Comet is the U8100. Well, it doesn't matter, because ALL of them are unsupported by Apparatus. Android Market filter[s] these out properly, they are clearly listed under the 'Unsupported devices due to your manifest settings'. But Amazon gladly provides Apparatus to these devices."

Romanus also says that Amazon made it practically impossible for users to provide feedback or get a refund. Some users even had to turn to using Facebook to contact the company as a last resort.

One particularly damning review, which suggested that the app would not work unless it connected to an 'ad server', erroneously declared that it needed a persistent Internet connection to play and went so far as to accuse the game of 'tracking' its users, causing downloads to fall through the floor in a matter of hours.

The fact that Romanus has no way of refuting the accusations, for which he says he doesn't blame the ill-informed reviewer, prompted Amazon to slash the price of the game without consultation.

In conclusion, Romanus says: "Amazon Appstore is probably good for big companies with big budgets. If you have the money to buy 384 phones and tablets [which is currently the exact number of supported devices for Apparatus, according to the Android Market developer console], and if you have the resources to let the game go through a couple of months of pre-release testing, then Amazon Appstore is for you.

"If you are a small indie development team, or possibly even alone, don't bother with Amazon Appstore. Create a great app, publish it on Android Market, and provide great customer support.

"You will never succeed on Amazon Appstore without a big wallet, or at least an established reputation so that Amazon puts value behind [its] promises."

We contacted Romanus today to find out whether Amazon had responded to his complaints. He told us: "I haven't heard from Amazom since the post, they haven't replied to my request to remove the game from their store either."

Asked whether he would consider the Appstore in the future he said, emphatically, "I will never publish another app through Amazon Appstore again."

You can check out Apparatus, which we think looks like jolly good fun, in the video below. Can we have an iPhone version please Emil?

If you've had problems with Apparatus, or are a developer with similar issues to those encountered by Bithack, please let us know all about it in the comments section below.

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