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Tiswaz's Kevin Dent on why he'll buy a Kindle Fire, but won't recommend you make games for it

Android tablet opens the door for Windows Phone

Tiswaz's Kevin Dent on why he'll buy a Kindle Fire, but won't recommend you make games for it
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Kevin Dent runs mobile gaming consultancy Tiswaz and is head of the IGDA Mobile SIG. The opinions expressed in this column are his own.

Last week, and to great fanfare, Amazon unveiled the Kindle Fire.

Most initial reviews have been positive. Yes, I personally like the device and will probably buy one, so here's what I think about it from a consumer's and a developer's point of view.

Customer relations

Amazon is one of the most customer friendly and trusted firms in the world. Buying things with 1-Click is great. After all, Amazon has one of the biggest databases of credit card numbers in the world today.

Conclusion: Fantastic

Price

There's been a lot of speculation that Amazon is taking a hit on the sale of each unit. Assuming this is correct, it's extremely smart as price is the only way to compete with Apple.

Keep in mind that mobile operators have been subsidising device sales for decades and I can’t think of many that have gone bankrupt. Even those who paid over the odds for 3G spectrum are in business today.

The reality is that the device is a wedge product. Amazon's focus isn't on selling you a device but rather selling you 20 books, 15 movies and the gateway to it becoming your default online shopping company.

Conclusion: Fantastic

Content

Amazon already has a plethora of content available right now, from books, to movies and apps.

Conclusion: Fantastic.

However, that was my perspective as a consumer. Now let’s move into to my industry perspective.

Developers, developers

In simple terms, it's my personal opinion that Amazon is the most developer hostile environment in the apps world today.

Its belief system seems to be entirely based on making itself look good. "We need to give a game away for free? Sure, let's whisper sweet nothings in the ear of a developer with promises of riches beyond their wildest dreams."

I have no problem with a free app a day approach, but it has to be based on solid business principles. Part of those principles is shared risk, but what exactly is Amazon risking here?

Nothing. In fairness, the IGDA tried to reach an accord with Amazon and it fell on deaf ears.

(Disclaimer: For the purpose of this article I am not talking on behalf of the IGDA, but rather as a member of the industry.)

Thus, it is my belief that Amazon is laser focused on trying to use developers as a bait to lure consumers to start using the Kindle Fire. It never, ever, ends well for the bait.

Conclusion: Not fantastic

App pricing

When Amazon was looking to attract developers to the Appstore, I meet with an exec. Of course, I had read the onerous terms and conditions.

He said, 'Ah, the lawyers got to the terms and conditions. There's no way we're going to abuse those conditions, ever. Legal just wanted them in.'

That was true for three months. Then we started to hear that Amazon was lowering the price of some apps without the permission of the studios involved. Personally, I felt like crap because I believed the Amazonian in question and I was quite vocal in my backing of Amazon's Appstore for Android.

Conclusion: Not fantastic

Darwin Awards for OS

In one idiotic swoop, Amazon has managed to find a new way to fragment an already hyper-fragmented platform. In fairness, I feel it deserves a Nobel Prize for the method used; 'Guess what, kids? We are going to re-invent Android'.

I couldn't care less which platform 'wins'. What I care about is money! Money is good. It means you can make your studio's payroll for another month whilst you try to discover the next great hit.

Let’s be really honest here, 70 percent of studios will not be able to tell you where their money will be coming from in six months' time.

That is why I thoroughly adore developers; they are willing to jump off a cliff in pursuit of a dream that they love and THAT is why I feel Amazon’s reaction is pretty repugnant.

Conclusion: Not fantastic

The alternative

So if it's not Amazon, what's the 'Apple alternative' for developers? Currently, my only Apple alternative is Microsoft.

I've been talking to a lot of developers who work with it and the feedback has been nothing but amazing. It's responsive, energetic and passionate about games. It treats developers with a great deal of respect and worships great games.

I've spent a lot of time digging into this because a lot of developers I know have been leery about Microsoft, to say the least, and I needed to get my head around it.

The thing that blew me away was there's only ever been one criticism of the Windows Phone platform: there is no native support for thirdparty engines such as Unreal and Unity.

But, from what I've been told by certain Microsoft executives, they are very mindful of this and are actively pursuing solutions.

In real terms, this would knock tens of thousands off the cost of porting efforts. That is the difference between making money and not making money for a lot of studios.

So, compared to Amazon’s model and, from my personal perspective, I would rather drink an ice cold glass of mint scented drain cleaner than populate its storefront with my content.

Conclusion: Ugh