Wednesday, June 27, 2012

(BN) Amazon Said to Add Social Features to Digital Games for Tablet

June 27 (Bloomberg) -- Inc. will make it easier for developers to add social features to games for the Kindle Fire tablet, a person with knowledge of the matter said, working to narrow Apple Inc.'s lead in the market for tablets.

The world's largest online retailer plans to release tools for digital-game makers by the end of July, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren't public. Developers will be able to add a broader range of features, including tracking high scores and monitoring awards won while playing games, the person said.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is working to make Kindle games more alluring to help Amazon increase sales of the devices, which hold 17 percent of the $66.4 billion tablet market, compared with 55 percent for Apple's iPad. Amazon is also trying to woo developers to help it grab a bigger slice of the global social-gaming market, which Lazard Capital Markets predicts will reach $8.98 billion in 2015.

Cat Griffin, a spokeswoman for Amazon, declined to comment.

Amazon also lags behind Apple in downloadable applications. The e-tailer has about 43,000 apps, compared with 4,000 when the store debuted in March 2011. Google Inc. and Apple each have more than 600,000 apps available in their stores.

Still, Amazon's store, which peddles apps built for Google's Android software, generates more revenue per user than Google's outlet.

Every $1 generated in Apple's iTunes App Store fetches 89 cents in Amazon's and 23 cents in Google's, according to Flurry, a provider of app-analytics software.

Amazon, based in Seattle, has already taken steps to make apps more appealing. It started letting users make purchases within the applications sold in its online store in April, matching a feature offered by Apple and Google.

Adding variety to the app store is part of Amazon's strategy to increase demand for the Kindle tablet, which went on sale in November and generates revenue through sales of digital music, books, movies and apps. Amazon may make $136 on each Kindle Fire over the lifetime of the tablet, thanks to movie, book and app downloads, Ross Sandler, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in New York, estimated in January.

Kindle had 17 percent of the tablet market in the fourth quarter, while Apple's was 55 percent, according to researcher IDC.

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