Amazon offers incentives for Fire Phone apps

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is offering incentives to developers to create apps for its new Fire smartphone, announced last week.

Programmers will receive up to $5,000 in Amazon's virtual currency, Amazon Coins, or up to $500 in credits for Amazon Web Services' cloud computing offering. There's also the promise of free promotion on Amazon's mobile ad network.

It's all part of Amazon's efforts to build a deep pool of apps for the new device.

Amazon unveiled the Fire phone in an eagerly anticipated event on June 18 in Seattle. The phone is packed with all sorts of nifty new features and technology, including dynamic perspective that lets users tilt the device to gain a different perspective on what's displayed in a map or video game. There's a Mayday button that provides a quick link to customer service and free unlimited cloud storage for images captured on the phone.

But of greatest interest to retailers is the Firefly button, which uses the phone's camera and microphone to recognize any real-world product. The button even bypasses the phone's lock screen and instantly takes shoppers to Amazon to access product information, reviews and pricing. They can then purchase using Amazon's one-click checkout.

It's a killer showrooming app.

"If Amazon Fire gains traction, it could be a major boost for mobile shopping on all mobile devices, as the one-click purchase feature could force the smartphone giants to make mobile shopping more integral to their OS experience, said Skava CEO Arish Ali, in an email. "Mobile shopping apps are currently crowded in a sea of apps on a user's home screen, but we have seen the desire to shop on mobile already, and hope that manufacturers fall in line with Amazon's approach to make shopping central to our mobile experience."

Of course, for Fire to catch on it needs more than just flashy features. Even Amazon's 250 million user base and 20 million Prime members will need more incentive than a year's free Prime membership to buy the phone and sign a two-year wireless contract.

It needs apps, hence the incentives for developers.

Amazon's Fire phone is available exclusively with AT&T and pricing begins at $199 for a 32GB model with a two year contract. There's also a 64GB model for $299. It ships July 25.

For more:
-See this Wall Street Journal story
-See this FierceRetail story

Related stories:
Amazon to add local services; battles with Time Warner
Amazon expands payments, PayPal founder launches Affirm Split Pay
Amazon adding limited streaming music to Prime
Amazon launches Prime Pantry
New Amazon Fire takes aim at Apple

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