Shortly after the time that the Kindle Fire launched, I discovered that Amazon had quietly blocked all their competitor’s reading apps from being seen in the Appstore on the Kindle Fire. That prohibition continues to this day (with one exception – Wattpad).
Well, today I got a hint that whatever Amazon may have hoped to achieve with the block, what they’re really doing is adding to the frustration of KF owners.
An email went around today from a PR firm working with Bluefire, the reading app developer. The email pointed us to recent post on the Bluefire blog, and that post provided instructions on how to get around Amazon’s block in a few simple steps.
Now, that email went around because Bluefire was hoping we would write about it. (By “we” I am referring to probably everyone who writes about ebooks; at a minimum TeleRead, eBookNewser, and I got it.) But don’t you wonder why the email was sent out? I do, because that’s the more interesting story.
I think Bluefire posted the instructions (just basic steps on how to install apps) because they are probably seeing an ongoing stream of frustrated readers. This tells me that Amazon’s block isn’t working quite the way that Amazon expected it to.
The people who make it as far as Bluefire’s website are probably people that you don’t want to piss off. They’re tech-savvy enough that they figured out that an app is missing. And they cared enough about this app to take the time to find Bluefire and ask what happened. When the readers get to Bluefire they’re told that Amazon is blocking the app, and that there is nothing Bluefire can do about it (there isn’t).
The readers are already puzzled, but when they discover the cause of their frustration, the common responses will range from annoyed to pissed. That is going to come back and bite Amazon in the arse one of these days. Even if there’s no immediate complaining about Amazon’s prohibition, it’s still creating a subtext in the minds of Kindle Fire owners.
Amazon, a company who supposedly likes customers, will secretly screw with you if it suits their purposes.
Just wait until the next time that Amazon gets some bad PR. This thought, even if it has been forgotten, will be influencing many of the people who were frustrated by the prohibition. They might never talk about it explicitly, but this issue is still going to affect how they talk about Amazon.
Next time you see bunch of complaining about something Amazon did, this prohibition will have exacerbated the situation.