Amazon is giving app developers digital tools to sell the site's physical goods from within mobile applications, opening a new selling channel.
Developers, according to blog entry from Mike George, vice president of Amazon Appstore, Games and Cloud Drive, have so far had three methods to monetize their apps: selling them outright, offering free apps with paid upgrades for better functionality, and using mobile ads.
With the launch of Mobile Associates API, currently available for Android, app developers can sell "real products from the millions of items at Amazon," whether physical (e.g., toys, clothing) or digital (e.g., eBooks), from inside their apps or games. Developers earn a commission of between four and six percent on the products they sell through their apps.
The blog entry listed a few examples of what developers might be able to do:
A customer initiates a purchase from within the app and then is presented with a dialog box showing the product details and cost. Amazon's 1-Click then completes the purchase and the item is shipped.
"It is easy to imagine how the new in-app purchasing could appeal for marketers: Stick a virtual pair of the latest Air Jordan shoes on a game character and offer them at a discount," wrote Greg Bensinger in the Wall Street Journal's Digits blog.
While many tech bloggers saw this as an avenue for developers to make money, one concern not unsuprisingly was the arrival of constant product plugs.
"For consumers, the world of online advertising crawls and pop-ups could soon be replaced by promotional sales links," wrote Internet Retailer in its review. "Eventually it's possible that that every product mentioned in an app could be available to buy."
How would you rate the size of the opportunity to sell physical products through apps?