Amazon Underground fights back against freemium with app and game giveaways


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A new program from Amazon promises thousands of dollars’ worth of free and apps and games, apparently with no strings attached.

Dubbed Amazon Underground, it’s essentially an alternative to Amazon’s existing shopping app for Android phones and tablets, but with a focus on free stuff. You can install it by visiting the Underground website from your Android device, or you can visit the Underground section of the Amazon Appstore for Android if you have it installed already. (You’ll first need to enable installing apps from “unknown sources” in the Android settings menu.)

Once inside, users can browse and install a substantial collection of free Android apps and games. Amazon makes a point of saying these offerings are “actually free,” meaning that any in-app items or levels come unlocked at no extra charge. Some of the titles on offer include OfficeSuite Professional 8, Goat Simulator, Frozen Free Fall, and Star Wars Rebels: Recon Missions. Amazon says it will pay developers on a per-minute basis in exchange for waiving their usual fees.

While Amazon has previously given away dozens of apps at a time in special promotions, the company says Underground is not a one-time deal. Instead, Amazon sees it as an ongoing program, with plans to add other benefits over time. Effectively, it replaces the “Free App of the Day” promotion that Amazon had been running.

What’s the catch? There doesn’t seem to be one, except that it requires you to use Amazon’s shopping app. There, you’ll find listings for physical items from Amazon’s online store, along with plenty of ads for Amazon Prime.

Why this matters: Free app giveaways were a bigger deal back when more apps charged an up-front price. But as more apps move to a “freemium” model, there may be less fodder for free app promotions, and fewer reasons for people to care. With Underground, Amazon is trying to come up with a better formula as it tries to keep its app store in the minds of Android users.

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