Microsoft encourages developers to charge more for Windows Mobile apps, and why that won’t be enough

Thu, Aug 20, 2009

Analysis, News

Earlier this week at the first ever Windows Mobile Developers Camp, Microsoft had some interesting things to say to its developers regarding app pricing on the upcoming Windows Marketplace app store.  Speaking to a group of about 50 developers, Loke Uei, Microsoft’s senior technical product manager for mobile developer experience, suggested that developers should avoid pricing their apps for $.99, a practice which has become quite common on the iTunes App Store.

The business opportunity is the ability to target more than 30 million devices globally today.  Ninety-nine cents is interesting, but I think your work is worth more than that – $5.99 or $9.99.

That’s kind of a bold statement to make when you’ve yet to actually see any apps.  Interestingly, 9to5Mac notes that of the 50 developers in attendance, only a handful of them had any significant mobile app development experience.  Talk about an uphill battle.

As competing products like the Palm Pre increasingly become attractive alternatives to the AT&T crippled iPhone, one of the differentiating features that will determine the success of smartphones going forward will be what kind of apps users will be able to download for each particular platform.  That said, high price points might be nice in theory, but if Windows Mobile users aren’t gonna download apps en masse, then it’s all for naught.

Looking back, Apple did things the right way.  It focused on delivering a kick-ass and revolutionary phone, waited until it had a solid installed base of users, released the iPod Touch which further solidified that base, and then released an SDK and made apps easy to download via iTunes.  Microsoft, though, seems to be going about things the wrong way.  Instead of trying to lure developers over with promises of higher price points, it should focus more on developing a solid phone, or OS in this case, that people, oh I don’t know, actually enjoy using.  Only then will they attract a devoted group of users who will actively and consistently download apps.  And then, and only then, will developers be convinced to develop for Windows Mobile.

For a company that spent a good part of the 90’s buying up competing companies left and right, Microsoft may soon find out that in today’s fast moving tech world, money can no longer by everything.

We should point out, though, that Microsoft has already secured Windows Mobile involvement from some of the more well-known mobile app developers – such as Pandora, EA, CNBC, Netflix, Gameloft, and MySpace.  It’s a start, but Microsoft will need to attract the indie developers if it truly wants to make a dent in the iPhone’s armor.


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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Constable Odo Says:

    I can see Microsoft’s point. This is a company that believes hardware should be cheap and software should be expensive. Why? Because they make money from software. With Apple it’s just the opposite. Why? Because Apple basically makes money from hardware.

    Developers knew from the start that there would be free and cheap apps on the Apple mobile platform. They flocked to it anyway. Microsoft thinks it knows better than Apple how to run a mobile platform. I doubt it. Many of the non-tech users of iPhones that I know, like the idea of free downloads and inexpensive games. They’re not heavy gamers and the light stuff is good enough for them. I think if Microsoft wants to charge a minimum of $6, then they are going to have a very difficult time competing with Apple. Apple has changed the whole mobile gaming price structure in a year and downloaders are completely spoiled. I’m thinking that businesses like Handango are really going to suffer.

    I understand why MS wants to charge more for games (claiming they’re doing it for developers), but it isn’t going to work. MS’s mobile platform is seriously screwed and is going to be cut out of the loop.

  2. MT Says:

    Microsoft still doesn’t get it. Without a marketplace, iscussion about the apps is pointless and shows you how stupid you are — or how stupid you think everyone else is. Are people REALLY going to flock to whatever MS eventually turns out just because its Windows? No, and they haven’t for years.

    Or you could just frame it like this. Microsoft gives a mobile dev talk and 50 people show up. Apple gives a mobile dev conference and tickets are sold out.

  3. Bensawsome Says:

    F*** you microsoft… Don’t tell them to charge more just because you are greedy >:(

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