Thursday, July 9, 2009

Amazon Killing Mobile Apps That Use Its Data

by MG Siegler on July 7, 2009

picture-45Well, this sucks. I had not yet gotten around to downloading the new Delicious Library iPhone app, which I heard was great. And now I can’t because the developer had to remove it from the App Store. Why? Because of Amazon.

A recent change to Amazon’s Product Advertising API means that apps like Delicious Library are being restricted from using it, according to Alan Quatermain. And what’s really perplexing is that this change apparently only matters on mobile devices, meaning bye bye to an iPhone app that took its developers 8 months to build.

Here’s the official wording that killed the app:

You will not, without our express prior written approval requested via this link , use any Product Advertising Content on or in connection with any site or application designed or intended for use with a mobile phone or other handheld device.

Developer Wil Shipley tried to reach out to Amazon to see about getting permission, but Amazon apparently said no exceptions were being made. Not only that, “they [Amazon] told me to remove it today, or they’d shut me down,” Shipley tweeted out.

And this data is crucial to Delicious Library, because it’s how it pulls its product information. So it won’t be back unless Amazon changes that rule, which it doesn’t appear to be ready to do anytime soon.

It would seem that Amazon only wants you to be able to access its product data through its own mobile site and apps. But that’s a problem because, as Quatermain points out, the Amazon iPhone app isn’t even available in places like the UK.

Yeah. This is fairly ridiculous.

Update: As Rod points out in the comments, this seems to be related to similar action Amazon was taking nearly 2 years ago against mobile web startups. But here’s why this remains utterly ridiculous — if not more so — just read what Amazon told us at the time:

2/ Now with regards to just ECS, we do limit access by some mobile-focused companies to just that service. Its says in our license agreement for that service that developers must first get permission from Amazon Web Services prior to using Amazon ECS in connection with any handheld, mobile, or mobile phone application (see 5.1.4 here) . The reason is that it’s very early days in the mobile space and is still thinking through how to best serve customers who want to use mobile devices to shop on At this point, we’re being cautious about exposing our catalog data for use in the mobile space.

Amazon tried to make it sound like they were just in the process of figuring everything out and then would come up with a way to “best serve customers who want to use mobile devices to shop on” Uh yeah, it’s been almost 2 years.

And again, Shipley did ask for permission, and was flat-out denied.

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