I was a little disappointed to read Microsoft’s Developer Strategy for the Next Generation of Windows Phones.
Unveiled last week, this PressPass piece indicates that Microsoft will be sharing 70% of sales revenue with developers for any Windows Mobile 6.5 applications sold through Windows Marketplace for Mobile. (Note: 70% is the same as Apple shares on their AppStore)
Put another way, Microsoft is charging you 30% of your sale, for giving you the opportunity to make your app available via Marketplace for Mobile. This seems high to me. Of course, having access to a huge international market is fantastic (and well worth the 30% commission I’m sure), and the promised feedback to developers on whether their apps meet certification requirements is extremely valuable.
But in a catch-up strategy (which Microsoft is definitely in), and with established channels such as Handango already in play (although to be fair they charge a whopping 40%), I was hoping for something spectacular from Microsoft.
Microsoft may still have significant market share in the mobile space, but it is eroding, and thus the success of endeavours like Marketplace for Mobile is vital for the platform. Microsoft needs to be attracting amazing mobile developers and encouraging the development of amazing mobile apps.
Ideally we’d be seeing Microsoft offering 95% share, with weekly competitions, awards for exceptional apps (as judged by their certification committee), special promotions of quality apps, etc.
Obviously there is significant infrastructure (and thus costs) required to facilitate the Mobile Marketplace, but extracting this from developers is not the way to proceed.
No, in this catch-up-to-the-iPhone-App-Store climate, Microsoft needs to view Mobile Marketplace as a marketing expense, not a monetization strategy.
Aside: In some ways this reminds me of the mistake Microsoft made with the early versions of its developer tools for Office (VSTO). Initial versions required special ISV partnerships, followed by versions charged at a hefty license fee. Not until recent years has VSTO become part of the Visual Studio install, and even now it still has some hurdles, since it is only included in the Professional Version and above. IMO, putting the VSTO tooling in the Express versions is long overdue, but that’s a topic for another post…