Android developers: Go all-in with the Kindle Fire HD

Android developers: Go all-in with the Kindle Fire HD

Summary: The Android app landscape is so vast that individual apps have little chance to reach the proper audience. That could be changed with the proper approach to app development. Forget the dozens of Android tablets and target your app at the Kindle Fire HD for maximum effect.

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TOPICS: Tablets, Amazon, Apps
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Amazon Appstore jpg (300x202)

The Android landscape is vast with 1.3 million device activations per day. The target audience is big enough to obtain success with good app development, but only if apps get noticed by customers. Given the difficulty in getting an app noticed in the huge Google Play Store, a good alternative is writing apps for the Kindle Fire and releasing it first in the Amazon Appstore.

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What makes Android so attractive to developers is the huge installed user base. There are millions of potential buyers for apps, but that's why there are hundreds of thousands of apps in the Play Store. Very few apps make much money for developers as they are hard for buyers to find in the crowd.

The Amazon Appstore is a viable alternative for Android app developers. The success of the Kindle Fire in less than a year makes the Amazon Appstore more attractive then when it first launched. The Kindle Fire has garnered 22 percent of the tablet market in that short time, making it the biggest selling tablet not produced by Apple. That market share will get even bigger with the new Kindle Fire HDs coming to buyers in time for the holidays.

The Amazon Appstore is preinstalled on every Kindle Fire and the Google Play Store is not present. Savvy users can jump through some hoops and install the Play Store, but most Kindle Fire owners stick with the Amazon Appstore. That makes the Amazon store an attractive option for developers with its big audience and much less competition to contend with compared to the big Play Store.

Even with the hundreds of thousands of apps in the Google Play Store, there are very few written especially for tablets of any size. A good strategy for developers is to write apps especially for the tablet screen. An even better strategy is to write them for the Kindle Fire HD. 

A good tablet app takes full advantage of the display larger than the smartphone screen. A great tablet app senses the display resolution and optimizes the information displayed based on the resolution. The bigger the screen resolution the more information that can be displayed.

Evernote jpg
Evernote with sliding panes

A great method to optimize the display on tablets is to use sliding windows. This method allows the user to display exactly the information desired and permits changing the display on the fly. This method has been used to good effect on the iPad, and a good example of it is the Android Evernote app. Using such apps resonates with the individual and builds a loyal fanbase.

Releasing Kindle Fire apps in the Amazon Appstore first is sure to make Amazon happy. Apps optimized for the Kindle Fire HD tablets will probably be given good promotion by Amazon. It's almost a sure bet that a good Kindle Fire HD app will rise to the top quickly.

Don't forget that apps can be released in the Amazon Appstore and also the Google Play Store. Developers don't give up the right to sell apps in the main Android store when they sell in the Amazon shop. It might be smart to hold off on the Play Store for a while though to allow promotion of the apps as Kindle Fire apps. That increases the likelihood of getting good promotion by Amazon.

To recap, Android app developers should think about writing apps specifically for the Kindle Fire HD tablet. Forget all the other Android tablets and go for the most popular one. Optimize the app for the specific resolutions of the Kindle Fire HD display. Promote your app as a Kindle Fire app, not an Android tablet app. Reach for the largest market segment and you'll most likely get good attention from Amazon in the process.

Ultimately you can release the app in the Google Play Store. Be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort supporting all those different Android tablets when you do so.

Topics: Tablets, Amazon, Apps

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26 comments
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  • Amazon is an expert system for selling

    Exactly. Let Apple polish its music boxes and Google invent systems that expertly connect you to the knowledge you seek.

    Bezos knows how to sell. His artificial intelligence is focused on selling your stuff to his customers. His massive server farms are dedicated to finding the next thing that a customer must have and presenting it to him the instant his subconscious is suggestible.
    jnffarrell
  • Amazon is an expert system for selling

    Exactly. Let Apple polish its music boxes and Google invent systems that expertly connect you to the knowledge you seek.

    Bezos knows how to sell. His artificial intelligence is focused on selling your stuff to his customers. His massive server farms are dedicated to finding the next thing that a customer must have and presenting it to him the instant his subconscious is suggestible.
    jnffarrell
    • Bezos is sure doing that with book publishing

      Gone are the days when you had to kiss up to the fat cat NY publishing houses and hope someone would give you a break...now you can choose yourself, write what you like, and then sell on amazon. Sure Bezos takes a cut, but its far less than what the publishing companies take.

      I'm hoping Amazon does the same with Apps. I use their app store on my amazon phone because its easier to use and the crap is filtered out.
      otaddy
      • Kindle Fire will be again the biggest selling non-Apple tablets

        So James' advice to developers is correct.

        And even though Kindle Fire HD has like 700 000 pixel less than iPad, it is still the highest possible resolution that is available for Android. Developers should go there since eventually 1920x1200 is going to be one of the next Android's standard resolutions.
        DDERSSS
      • Yeah, before iBook came

        out from Apple with its evil 30% take, Amazon's cut was seventy to ninety percent.
        baggins_z
        • I thought they had the same 30% take

          not that I brought up Apple...
          otaddy
  • Optimizing for HTTV is great advice

    Going back forever, lazy engineers have said people won't notice the difference. Tell that to people selling soup on TV. Until you could see the steam rising from the bowl you lacked the urge to consume.

    Similarly, whether the source of the buying urge is Apple, Google or Amazon, presenting your product in HD is a must.
    jnffarrell
    • Soupy Sales

      Yeah, I had to laugh at all the stuff about Nokia "lying" in their ads for the phone camera. If people had any idea what sort of substances are used as "makeup for food" in television commercials, those succulent shrimp and juicy steaks would make them puke :-)
      Robert Hahn
  • Spot on

    You are spot on with this article. What I am not sure many developers recognize yet is that I prefer to buy apps at Amazon because I can use them on all of my devices, no rooting required. I can put them on my phones, my tablets, and Kindles. I do also check the ones they prominently promote for the Kindle Fire. And I am drawn to check the site daily thanks to the free app of the day promotion. I know the goal is to get me to at least come to the site and it works. While I am there, I notice the apps being promoted on the page and start perusing and browsing for other apps. I have purchased quite a few that way.
    necessaryevil
  • I don't get it

    and Android app is an Android app. if you're a dev, you'd be stupid not to release your app in both stores considering they're both hugely popular. and as a dev you'd be stupid to limit your app to the amazon store where you would lose out on the majority of phone users, and a quickly growing number of non-fire tablet owners.

    the 8.9 HD fire will probably do quite well, but the smaller new fire is probably not going to put a dent in nexus 7 sales. and I assume a good chance that google will be putting out a 10 incher in november along with the next phone, or early next year at the latest.
    theoilman
    • Android is Android

      Absolutely. And any Amazon App is available on any Android device from day one with the Amazon store app on your device. I think rather than creating a wall between app ecosystems a successful Amazon 8.9" HD tablet will give all Android products a needed kick in the butt for quality and quantity tablet optimized apps. Eventually most developers should be writing everything to support all size displays in their apps as default (the way Google intends it). There is no need for tablet specific apps, all should be optimized for tablets and phones of any size day one.
      toxmarz
      • very true

        lazy devs suck
        theoilman
  • no

    I don't feel like supporting amazon since they go out of their way to erase any "google" from the OS that is perhaps 90% the base of the "fire OS" and even now put bing as the default search engine as another slap in the face. I'm not expecting to ever make much from any app on these mobile devices. I do it for fun and supporting decent companies like google. The nexus 7 is a big enough seller for "tablets" (love mine, iPad never used anymore) and I'd rather just write apps that run anywhere, particularly phones, even if not optimal for any one specific.
    deathjazz68
    • Seems to be a common theme around here

      I've been enjoying the sour grapes from "the community", which on the one hand loves to go on and on about Androids "openness"... but when someone (besides Google) builds a solid device, they circle the wagons and start criticizing it--even to the point of making stuff up.

      The iPad is still at the top of my list, but I've been waiting to see what others offer this Fall before I make a purchase.

      I'm really enjoying the Android Fanboy show..
      otaddy
  • kindle without FIRE

    Nice article, but do let me open your eyes a bit, guys.. KINDLE FIRE IS NON EXISTENT OUTSIDE THE STATES. Yup. There's a huge market out there that the Fire just cannot satisfy - one is the millions of us in Asia, Europe and Africa (which is where Samsung has a strong stronghold). Second, the kindle fire is an Amazon device - if you need a REAL tablet that checks emails, does presentations, games, movies, content consumption etc its clear you have only one choice - An Android Tablet. Yup.. Not the kindle. Not the closed, iTuneD, singletasking, over-propaganda-ed ipad. And that's why Samsung is making a killing with the s3, Tab2 and note.... Its what people really need. Not the Kindle which for many of us has NO FIRE.
    funwakinmade@...
    • Looks like you are the one that needs to open the eyes

      Do a simple google search... Kindle Fire is coming to UK, Italy, and France...and maybe more countries.

      You really think Amazon isnt working on bringing this device out world-wide?
      otaddy
    • A cheaper alternative

      There are now many Android alternative tablets that are very competitive in features & much cheaper in price than Apple as well as Kindle units.

      We originally purchased the Ainol Aura & now the newer Ainol Novo 7 Fire/Flame & love both.
      The Fire/Flame includes bluetooth, front & rear cameras & is well below the $200 mark.
      grump3
  • Device Specific development is Android Suicide...

    Developers, do not follow this post exactly. Follow the design guidelines and the lessons published on Google's Android developers site. Develop your app to scale and adjust to any size screen like Google recommends, because limiting your app to 4 million people, verses 480 million people, is idiotic. The "Journalist" above says you can submit your app to both app stores, and that is exactly what you should do. Choosing one app store over the other will just further fragment Android, causing you more issues in the future. Think about it like this, if the specs for the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD are pretty similar, and you follow the design guidelines Google gives you, your app will natively work on both devices anyways. Why limit your apps possible market to sell to. You may read reports that say, Amazons App store has higher likely hood for apps to be purchased by fire owners, but that is due to the low number of owners and the high number of paying consumers. With 480 million people in the Google Ecosystem, even if only 10% of the users buy apps, 48 million possible customers is way higher then Amazon's possible 5 or so million devices sold. Not to mention if one does the math of Jelly Bean tablets (The Nexus 7) sold using Google's provide statistics, there have been 5.7 million devices sold since the product launched in late July. That puts Google ahead, not to mention that these people are accustom to going to the Play Store to order things (Like their Nexus 7). Google's Play Store is rapidly growing in popularity and brand recognition. Don't get hyped up for a losing team. Amazon's video and music selection may be great, but only post your app in their store to get your name out. The actual Android ecosystem should be your main focus.


    My Sources:

    http://www.asymco.com/2012/08/31/how-many-kindle-fires-were-sold/

    http://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html
    TarzanJr
  • Umm

    Just because you keep saying it doesn't make it true Jim! I have all the Tablet Apps I need and more for Android! Of software ia designed to run at HD using the 16:9 or 16:10 format then it is written for the Tablet!
    slickjim
  • Or Target Them All

    The nice thing about Android is that it's still Android on all devices: regardless of the brand name, they can all run the same apps, making use of the same APIs, accessing the same functionality and built with the same developer tools. Compare this with Microsoft's fragmented efforts, where the name "Windows" now stands for any of 5 different platforms targeting 3 separate market segments, with no commonality of APIs, functionality, build systems or deployment, and you can see why the users have now made Android the world's most popular OS.
    ldo17