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Amazon Offers Truly Free Apps

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When most people think about app stores, Amazon is the last on the list. Not only is it only available for Amazon and Android devices, but really the app store doesn’t have anything that Google Play doesn’t. And while the Amazon App Store requires all kinds of hoops in order to download, Google Play is automatically included on pretty much every Android device.

The only thing that really set the Amazon App Store apart was its Free App of the Day, which would offer users a paid app for free every day of the year. Sometimes they were awesome apps and sometimes they weren’t, but it was something no one else had. Well, it looks like Amazon has finally put and end to the Free App of the Day promotion and unleashed a new way for consumers to get free apps–Amazon Underground.

Amazon Underground is an update to the current Amazon app and provides customers with what Amazon is dubbing “Actually Free” apps. These normally paid apps contain absolutely no in-app purchases and no additional cost. Amazon covers all of the costs for consumers and instead pays the developer a per-minute amount based on how long consumers actually run the apps. This per-minute amount is not passed to the consumer in any way that I can see, which results in ‘truly free’ apps.

The catch (there’s always a catch) is that the app choice is pretty small right now. It wasn’t too hard for me to find a couple of apps that I wanted and there are both games and functional/productivity apps available including OfficeSuite Professional 8 and PhotoSuite 4. Some games currently available include Frozen Free Fall,Angry Birds Slingshot Stella and Cut The Rope 2 among others.

I seem to remember something similar to this being debuted as a limited-time promo (or perhaps a beta) a while back, and I thought the idea was an interesting one then. However, Amazon has posted a notice on its website to let consumers know that the Amazon Underground isn’t a limited-time promotion this time. The company intends to build and grow the segment over time to include additional games which may or may not cycle out occasionally.

In order to get Amazon Underground, you need to visit this website from your phone and then follow the download instructions. You’ll probably have to change your security settings to allow apps to be installed from unknown sources. If you were already using the Amazon App Store, then this is likely already checked off by default.

Personally, I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can’t possibly see how Amazon could make any money off of this initiative, as fun as it is for consumers. There must be some excellent back-end deals on the sides of developers or something. Only time will tell. I have played with the “absolutely free” apps a little bit and intend to try out some more during the next couple of days, and I’ll be back with my thoughts on it this weekend. Be sure to check back in then for more details!