Amazon announced yesterday that it will be closing down its "Underground Actually Free" program, which gives free versions of Android apps that would otherwise cost money. The program, launched back in 2015, will be fully discontinued by the company in 2019. The company has not stated any solid reasons for shutting down of the program.
At the time of launch, the lineup included some of the most popular gaming titles such as Frozen Free Fall, Star Wars Rebels: Recon Missions, Angry Birds Slingshot Stella, Looney Tunes Dash etc. Currently there over 20,000 apps and games available in Underground, claims the website. The main reason behind opening the program was to drive customers to Amazon's own hardware devices.
In these devices, the Underground apps could be accessed via Amazon's built-in Android app store. One could access the Underground apps from other Android devices as well by downloading an Underground mobile app separately.
However, this app had to installed directly from the website of Amazon.
Underground Actually Free will be closed down in stages. By May 31, 2017, Amazon will stop accepting app submissions to the program. However, existing members will still be paid according to their developer agreement.
Later it will stop access to the Underground Actually Free store through its Appstore for Android app. And finally, in 2019, the Underground apps and the Actually Free Store will get shut down completely.
While Amazon initially said that the Actually Free program was 'long-term', this decision by the company shows that it was nothing but a business plan to lure more customers to the platform with free apps.