Windows Mobile Marketplace: Coming Soon

Ellen wrote last week about how Apple changed the mobile world with the iTunes App Store. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact of the Microsoft mobile software store, Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which is scheduled for release on October 6.

First of all, I’m very hopeful that it will be a big success. Microsoft will be including it on all the new Windows Mobile 6.5 devices, as well as making it available for download on WM 6.0 and 6.1 units. I believe that’s the single most important factor in an app store’s success.

I’m very pleased to see that Microsoft is allowing developers to submit trial versions of their software to Marketplace. Letting users run demo versions of applications before they buy is not only important to them, but can also make a big difference in the quality of the apps available, and the price they sell for. I know that people don’t object to paying reasonable prices for software – we wouldn’t be here if they did. But I also know that it’s much harder for someone to pay for an application if they haven’t had the chance to try it first. Allowing trials in the Marketplace will undoubtedly help prevent the “race to the bottom” that plagues iTunes.

I know the Windows Mobile Marketplace won’t initially have the number of apps that iTunes does, but I don’t think that’s a problem, either as a developer or an end-user. As a developer, I’m frustrated by how hard it is for our apps to be seen among 75,000 apps; as a user, I’m frustrated by how hard it is to find what I’m looking for. Of course Microsoft needs enough apps to appeal to the wide variety of their users, and I hope the developer community will provide them. The ideal scenario would be that the Windows Mobile Marketplace gets the magic number that makes the store compelling without being overwhelming. I think there’s a good chance of that happening.

Like Apple, Microsoft is reviewing all apps submitted to the Windows Mobile Marketplace, and apps have to be approved before they’ll appear. And like with Apple, there have been problems in the review and approval process. The good news is that Microsoft is improving their process, and implementing changes suggested by developers. Once again, I’m optimistic. This doesn’t seem like the old Microsoft.

As Ellen wrote in her earlier post, mobile developers no longer have the problem of users not knowing they can buy software for their smartphones. Everyone knows “there’s an app for that”, and we’ve seen proof that users of every smartphone want apps for their phones. I think the Windows Mobile Marketplace button on the new Windows Mobile phones has the potential to get a lot of attention. And that will help us all.

3 thoughts on “Windows Mobile Marketplace: Coming Soon

  1. Peter

    Looking forward to it for some things. Maybe it will encourage the WM community again and perhaps even get us some newer apps for the WM devices. Lately everything’s been heading to the iPhone (and I can’t blame the community for that – it has a lot of visual appeal). I just hope that MS has some pretty clear guidelines about app approval that won’t leave developers in limbo about whether or not their app will be approved or if it’s just slated for a decline no matter what. I also hope that MS won’t remove the ability to install apps from outside of their marketplace. That’s a very strong feature of WM right now and one I hope we get to keep.

  2. Kevin White

    As an employee of Ilium Software, I routinely tell users how to install via .CAB files for support reasons. If MS removed that ability, that would stink.

    I don’t know how many emails I send out each week that include, “Apple doesn’t let us/you/anyone do this, that, or the other thing.”

    On the other hand, I have an iPhone and love it. :( :) As a user, I don’t really run into many limitations on my iPhone that really annoy me, but as technical support for a company that makes iPhone software, I run into them constantly.

  3. Ken Post author

    @Peter: Great points, Peter. The guidelines are actually quite clear and if an app is not approved, the test results will point to the section of the guidelines so you know exactly what the problem is. There is also no restriction at all about distributing apps outside of Marketplace. In addition to distributing via Marketplace, we plan to continue to make our apps available directly on our site and through mobile distributors.

    @Kevin: The options for installing applications are all still there — but now users also have the option of purchasing an app from Marketplace.

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