In 2011, Amazon released an app-testing feature for their Appstore called Test Drive. The feature allowed customers to try applications on an Android emulator on the web browser or their Android phones. This eliminated the need for downloading apps, making it much easier for customers to test them and for developers to promote them.
Developers didn’t need to do any extra work to reap the benefits of the feature. As soon as they posted their application on the Amazon Appstore, Amazon would check it for Test Drive and enable it if it met the criteria. The feature aimed to show customers the value of premium applications and allowed them to test the apps before investing in them. Amazon believed that this would boost downloads and help in promoting freemium applications. Since its launch, Test Drive was enabled on over 16000 applications.
Test Drive was an innovative feature by Amazon which set its Appstore apart from other popular ones including iTunes and Google Play. However, in 2015, Amazon made the decision to shut down the widely publicized feature.
Amazon later revealed that the Test Drive service had seen a significant decline in usage due to the popularity of free to play business models adopted by mobile games. While consumers had been interested in checking out mobile games through the feature, mobile game developers had started generating revenue from in-app purchases and advertisements, allowing them to eliminate paid downloads which meant that users could now download applications for free.
In the last years of the service, many developers had stopped using Test Drive altogether. Since it wasn’t universally used by all developers, customers were often disappointed when they couldn’t test drive the apps they were excited about.
Perhaps Amazon made the right call as a feature like TestDrive would have even more competition nowadays. Popular app stores now offer several ways to discover and get a sneak peek of new applications. From gameplay videos to interactive advertisements, developers are utilizing many new ways to promote their mobile games. App publishers are also making their applications free of charge for limited periods as a promotional strategy.