Who doesn’t love free stuff? And in today’s age and world where we spend half of hour time with our noses buried in our smartphones, free applications are awesome. Which is why Amazon’s decision to shut down its “Underground Actually Free” program is certain to leave people saddened. After all, the platform hosted around $10,000 worth of free applications.
In case you are unaware of the program, the “Underground Actually Free” is Amazon’s attempt to offer its customers free versions of a slew of Android applications that would otherwise cost them money. This included applications that required users to purchase in-app items despite being free on the surface. Amazon has today announced that the program will be fully discontinued by 2019.
The Underground incepted with a bunch of well known apps and games and over the time that it has been live, Amazon has added over 20,000 titles to it. These apps usually cost you money everywhere else but, were available for free via Amazon Underground. So why did the company do it? After all, corporations a be nice when it suits them, but whoever heard of someone offering 20,000 paid apps and games for free and toeing the bill?
Amazon’s motive was pretty simple. Folks visiting the Undeground website were reminded that they could have all this natively if they were to make the switch to Amazon’s own hardware, including the Kindle Fire HD and Fire HDX tablets. Google’s policies mean that Amazon could not host an Underground app on the play store, so users had to download it directly via the company’s website.
The developers got paid of course, but instead of users, Amazon paid them based upon how long thy used a particular application for. The company was probably hoping to lure more people to its own smartphone ecosystem. However, it is giving up all these efforts despite saying the the underground store was a long term thing during its launch. The company appears to have had a change of hearts, or it simply seems to have realized that the expenses outweighed the profits it was making. Whatever the reason, the program is being shuttered and will go completely off-line by 2019.
The company details the shutdown process in a blog post:
We have decided to discontinue the Underground Actually Free program. All support for the program will end in 2019. Until then, current Fire tablet customers can continue to enjoy previously installed Underground apps and access the Underground Actually Free store.
As of May 31st, 2017, Amazon will no longer accept new app and game submissions for the Underground Actually Free program. If you’re an existing Amazon Underground developer, you will continue to get paid for every minute customers spend in your Amazon Underground app as provided in our developer agreement.
Developers can continue to submit and publish updates to their existing Underground apps until 2019.
A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.