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Amazon green-lights in-app purchasing for Android

Whacks down another plank in Googleplex assault

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Amazon has enabled in-application billing for Android apps sold through its US Appstore, though it's reserving the right to control the amount punters end up paying.

Amazon's In-App Purchasing API has been in beta for a while, but now any application can throw up an "insert coin to continue" dialogue linked directly to the user's 1-Click account. Developers get 70 per cent of their asking price, but Amazon reserves the right to muck about with the amount users get charged.

Amazon will control the retail price of the content, as it does the price of the applications themselves, in contrast to other app stores, which allow developers to set the final price. When Amazon changes the price of an app, the developer gets 70 per cent of that price, though always at least 20 per cent of what they asked for. For in-app purchases developers are guaranteed 70 per cent of their suggested retail price, even if Amazon changes the label.

Amazon wants that flexibility so if can offer promotional discounts or bundled applications – something Google or Apple would have a terrible time doing as they'd have to negotiate with each developer. Amazon's approach has upset some, but developers don't have to join and most vitriol has been directed at the daily free app which sits outside these rules.

Competing app stores have had in-application billing for a while now, mostly to enable the increasingly popular freemium model which allows a user to try out a basic application and upgrade to a full version at the press of a button. In-game expansions, such as the Mighty Eagle – which obliterates egg-stealing pigs at a swoop – haven't proved as revolutionary as expected, though the market is still developing.

Amazon's flagship Kindle, the Android-based 'Fire, is locked into Amazon's own store, and so has been lacking in-app purchasing until now. But Amazon has also had success inducing other Android users to download its store, notably through the aforementioned daily free app.

Right now that store is still US only, but the Kindle Fire is scheduled for a UK launch at the end of April and will, presumably, come with the Amazon Appstore too. So by the start of May we should be able to pay Amazon for in-app purchases on this side of the pond too. ®

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