Today we’re disclosing the details of the Windows Phone 7 application development platform and tools and how to create more compelling and creative applications and games based on Silverlight and XNA. Everything starts there, but it doesn’t end there, not until you’ve been able to distribute and sell your application to a customer. The way users discover and download an application or game on their Windows Phone 7 Series device is through the Windows Phone Marketplace.
I’ll be describing the Marketplace experience from two vantage points this week. In today’s post, I’ll do so from the user’s point of view and later this week from the developer’s point of view
END USER AS SHOPPER FOCUS
We started our thinking about the design of Marketplace by talking to users about what defines a great shopping experience, not only on phones but physical and online shopping experiences as well. So what makes a great shopping experience?. First it’s a place where customers:
- Can easily locate and use from wherever they are.
- Get everything they’re looking for in one place that looks and performs consistently.
- Have access to experiences and content they just can’t find anywhere else
- Want to visit often and linger because it’s always fun, fresh and vibrant every time they go.
- Can leisurely browse the latest, greatest and the most popular goods available or quickly find what they are looking for
- Have access to all the information they need to make an informed decision
- Get the opportunity to try a free sample or take a test-drive
- Pay the way they want, without waiting in line
And second, a great shopping experience is also one where all the products for sale:
- Always work well and reliably
- Do no harm
- Are legal and of generally good taste
- Are easily found once I’ve got them and I can incorporate the way I want into my life
- Tell me when there is new information available
So how are we delivering against these expectations with the Windows Phone Marketplace?
PROVIDING A GREAT SHOPPING EXPERIENCCE
- Marketplace is always present on every Windows Phone 7 Series device making it front and center discoverable to every Windows Phone 7 user. Since people like to shop from their PC we also be making Marketplace available as a PC experience as well.
- There will be a single, consistent Marketplace on Windows Phone 7 Series for users to acquire all the content they can download which are organized smartly by groups of applications, games, music, podcasts and special offers and exclusives from Mobile Operators and OEMs, all in one integrated experience.
- Marketplace will uniquely make available Xbox LIVE games for their phone, applications based on latest Silverlight runtime, and millions of songs and podcasts from Zune, only available on Windows Phone.
- Marketplace is one of the six signature hub experience of Windows Phone 7 Series and has a fresh, fun vibrant design that a user touch navigates through a panoramic viewing experience. It looks like this:
- From this Marketplace Hub entry point, users can access the content-specific marketplaces, see available application updates, and view a selection of editorially placed application, game and music content. When the user touch selects ” applications” they go the application marketplace (if they selected games they would go to Games Marketplace, and so forth) which looks like this:
- Marketplace helps users find what they’re looking for through a variety of softer views like: genre type, popularity, newness, editorial placements or keyword search. The design of Marketplace also helps user discover content with layered visual placements of application and game content from the top level of the marketplace hub experience (in this representation one panoramic placement-Associated Press- and thirteen other applications and games spread across popular, new and featured”). You’ll also notice an important principle in this design: a focus on the content, not the chrome. In the Windows Phone Marketplace it’s your app or game that is the hero (in this case the app from Associate Press). The background visual (we call the panorama placement) that defines the theme for the day or the user session and provides ample encouragement for a user to click to learn more.
- Marketplace helps users make informed decisions with price, ratings, descriptive information up to 8 screenshots, and recent reviews as you’d expect to find, and have added a few other features: First as a publisher, if you have multiple applications or games, you can let users know about them in your app description and click to access them. Second, we are adding a “deep link” feature which enables a developer to include the deep link on their web-site, in a text/email, or social network post which when a user clicks directly takes them to your application description. Third we include a “related” tab which suggest content users might also like based on apps or games other users have downloaded who have also downloaded this app.
- Marketplace now adds a new Trial API that gives every application or game developer the option, but not the requirement, to enable a single instance of their code to include trial usage limitations (like time or level) so that users can test drive the app/game they are considering.
- Marketplace also continues to enable MO billing or credit card as payment options. MO Billing enables users a convenience option to purchase apps or games and have the charge added to their phone bill. Our experience with operating the existing Windows Mobile Marketplace and Danger suggests MO billing promotes paid sales of all apps and games several multiples over credit card alone.
ENSURING HIGH QUALITY PRODUCTS
In addition to designing what the Marketplace is and how it works, we’ve also focused on what users expect of the content they find and have built and operate a certification process that every application and game goes through to meet these customer expectations.
Customers reasonably expect the applications and games they find:
- install and run correctly,
- use device resources efficiently
- are not malware compromising their identity or that of their friends family and colleagues
- transparently ask and inform users what personal information the application is accessing
- are legal to own and use in their country of residence, and
- Are of generally good taste excluding pornography, hateful/inflammatory speech, and gratuitous violence.
These policies are posted today (at developer.windowsphone.com) for the Marketplace on Windows Mobile 6.x, and will be refined, updated and posted later this Spring, but will be largely consistent with what we’ve published.
Finally, customers buy or download apps and games in order to use them. Every app or game a user downloads always appears in one place, the Applications List (located a swipe to the right from the Start screen), in alphabetical order, to be easily found. From there, a user has the option to personalize their Start experience by pinning the app or game they’ve downloaded from the Application List to the Start screen as a dynamically updated Live Tile and place that tile in any order they want. Developers define the design and function of their tile and can build it to reflect notifications they choose to serve to the users (like updates, alerts or other information the developer wants to surface to the user and encourage usage). In addition, certain content types are auto-organized where users would expect: games are also accessible via the Games hub, photo applications are available in Pictures hub, and music and entertainment apps are available from the Music+Video hub.
The Marketplace in Windows Phone 7 Series is as different as the phone experience itself, and is designed and run for users to easily, enjoyably and safely discover and download applications and games.
Later this week I’ll share more about the developer experience for publishing applications and games through Marketplace and how developers can take advantage of the user experience to promote their app or game and connect with customers.