Amazon's app store customers can now buy Amazon Coins, the store's virtual currency, as gifts, the company announced Thursday.
When customers purchase a bundle of Amazon Coins as a gift, Amazon will notify the gift recipient through e-mail. The coins are normally priced at one cent per coin, but Amazon is adding a slight discount for bundles to encourage gifting. Bundles currently range from $4.80 for 500 coins to $90 for 10,000 coins. The promotion ends January 5.
It's a way for Amazon to use existing Appstore customers to attract new ones. The company recently decided to use a similar tactic with Amazon Prime memberships, which customers can also purchase as presents.
Since coins work the same way as money, it might seem odd that people would buy coins in the first place. Amazon gave Kindle tablet owners 500 Coins for free earlier this year to encourage customers to check out its still growing App Store. Since then, customers have purchased "hundreds of millions" of Coins, according to an Amazon press release.
Amazon quoted one customer as saying, "My daughter and I both have the Kindle Fire HD and the coins are a great way for us to stay on a budget. At the beginning of the month we each buy our Coins for the month."
Customers can use the coins to buy apps as well as items within apps. Amazon also included top purchases in its announcement:
The top 5 purchased apps and games with Coins are Minecraft - Pocket Edition, Wheel of Fortune, Plants vs. Zombies (Kindle Tablet Edition), Bejeweled 2, and Scribblenauts Remix
The single most purchased app using Coins is Minecraft - Pocket Edition
The single most purchased in-app item using Coins is "Get more lives" in Candy Crush Saga
The first app purchased with Coins was a tie between Jewel Legends: Tree of Life and Cut the Rope: Time Travel HD
Clearly, gaming plays a huge role in Amazon's fledgling store. The company is using promotions like Amazon Coins in an effort to grow the store, which is considerably smaller than Apple's app store or Google Play. If people really are buying Coins, it's a show of commitment from users that Amazon hopes will encourage app developers.