Amazon killed our iPhone apps

amazon-logo1Just when I thought things were quieting down here at the office, I received the following email from Amazon:

Subject: Your Amazon Associates Acount

It has come to our attention that you have created applications for use with mobile devices which use content. The use of a mobile application in conjunction with the Product Advertising API or the Associates Program without our express prior written approval is not permitted.

As a result, we must insist that you cease this use of our services immediately. Moreover, because of this violation of both the Product Advertising API License Agreement and the Associates Operating Agreement, your Associates accounts have been closed and your access key turned off.

We thank you for your understanding and wish you the best of luck in the future.

And indeed, in Amazon’s Terms of Service for the usage of the Product Advertising API, we found the following:

“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.”

So, what does this mean?

Well, I am not sure, as the only information I have at the moment is in the above two quotes.

But here’s my understanding of the situation:

  • Amazon does not seem to allow the usage of any Amazon data in mobile applications. They must be referring to our iPhone applications, but it’s not even clear which ones. I am guessing Clz Music, Clz Movies, Clz Books and Clz Games. Our comics app Clz Comics does not use Amazon data and never has.
  • Because of this violation, they have “turned off our access key”. This means that they have blocked our access to all Amazon XML feeds. Which would mean our software and our servers cannot do ANY Amazon searches anymore.
    At the moment, the Amazon searches still seem to be working, but I expect this to stop functioning any moment now.

Our actions so far:

To (hopefully) prevent the disabling of our access key for the Amazon feed:

  • We have removed all our iPhone apps (except Clz Comics) from the Apple App Store. I have no idea if they will ever be back. Time will tell.
  • We have contacted Amazon to let them know about this removal, requesting that they keep our access key enabled and re-open our Associates accounts.
  • We have emailed all our existing customers, telling them about the removal of the iPhone apps and the possible disabling of the Amazon searches.

We are not the first: Delicious Library and PocketPedia

I just learned that we are not the first to have our iPhone apps pulled because of using Amazon data. The same thing seems to have happened earlier, to both the Delicious Library iPhone app and the PocketPedia companion app for Bruji’s [..]pedia software.

And now ?….

And now we wait.
Currently our Amazon searches are still working. That’s my biggest concern. Over the years we have build pretty good online media databases of our own, for CDs, movies, books, comics and video games. So our Windows, Mac OS X and online Connect editions will continue to work, even without Amazon data. Maybe with reduced coverage for barcode searches, but even that is something we can improve on (with a lot of manual labour).

As for our iPhone apps.. Well, it was fun while it lasted. Maybe we can bring them back later, modified to never use Amazon data or images.

Anyway, I will keep you posted on the developments.

2 thoughts on “Amazon killed our iPhone apps

  1. Hi Alwin,

    Thanks for keeping the Collectorz community posted via Twitter. I’ll be curious to hear when exactly they do respond to your query (if at all) and exactly how they respond and address your issue.



  2. Alwin,

    There was an Amazon guy at either ESWC or SIC (I forget) in the last couple of years. Maybe you should try to find his email address to see if you can find a sympathetic ear at Amazon.

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