Amazon Android Developers Can Now Charge More Than $20 For In-App Purchases

Amazon is now letting developers charge higher prices for in-app purchases thanks to new parental controls it just strengthened.

The company sent out an e-mail to developers today that said:

“With our parental controls functionality now updated, in-app items over $20 may now be submitted via the developer portal.”

Developers depend on these pricier items to make their businesses work since only a small percentage (usually in the single digits) of their users pay in their games. These so-called “whales” are responsible for the bulk of a developer’s revenues. In a study earlier this year, mobile analytics company Flurry found that transactions that were more than $20 make up the majority of revenue for top-grossing games on iOS and Android.

But this business model has caused tension on Apple’s iOS platform. Last year, there were widespread reports that children could run up hundreds of dollars in purchases on their iPods, iPhones or iPads to their parents’ chagrin. Apple has a 15-minute window for purchases after an iOS device owner types in their password. After the 15 minutes passes, they have to re-enter their password if they want to buy more.

Amazon famously has a one-click payments flow, which in a normal case could make a Kindle especially risky to hand to a child or toddler. But the device has parental controls. If they’re set up properly, all purchases require an password or a 4-digit PIN. Kindle owners can set this up from the ‘Settings’ menu on their device.

Higher price points for in-app purchases should also help Amazon boost its reputation as an app store that’s more lucrative per user than Google Play. Another Flurry study showed that the average revenue per user on Amazon’s store is about 89 percent of what it is on iOS. Meanwhile, Google Play has an average revenue per user that’s about one-quarter of what it is on iOS.