A Year Later–The Windows Phone 7 Numbers That Matter

At the MIX10 conference last year the Windows Phone team showed, for the first time, the application platform and tools that developers would use to build applications and games for Windows Phone 7. We announced that the tools were free, would always be free, and set about the next phase of our developer campaign – educating and exciting the developer community about the limitless possibilities available on Windows Phone. Personally, this has been the hardest and most rewarding year of my professional career. As a team we felt like this was as good a time as any to take stock of what the year has produced.

When considering the various measures of progress over the last year, we tend to focus on the third party developers who have built so many amazing apps and games for the platform. Given the one year anniversary of the tool set, I also want to acknowledge the engineering work that began long before any of us knew what the Windows Phone developer platform would be. Evangelizing the platform and our developer ecosystem is incredibly easy when the team building it has done such an amazing job. It hasn’t been without its challenges, for sure, but the level of energy and commitment from the engineering team has only grown with each new developer. The engineering team has built an amazing product, and for that my team cannot thank them enough.

Our original commitment to developers a year ago focused on four guiding principles:

  1. Deliver amazing developer tools for free
  2. Make app and game creation fun, easy and rewarding
  3. Give developers a beautiful new canvas on which to translate their ideas and deliver an amazing experience to their customers
  4. Give developers the respect and transparency they deserve

Instead of talking about those points one-by-one, we thought it would be more fun to take a look at some of the numbers that illustrate our commitment to those principles over the course of our first year:

  • 1.5 Million – The Windows Phone Developer Tools, consisting of Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone and Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone have been downloaded over 1.5 million times. Put differently, the number of downloads equates to the size of the entire population of Philadelphia. (Somewhere a NY Giants fan just screamed.)
  • 36,000 – People are talking a lot about the number of developers in their ecosystem. It would be easy for us to say that we had 1.5 million given the developer tools downloaded, or we could talk about the number of people we have on mailing lists, but we won’t. We’d rather give a nod to the 36,000 members of the AppHub community who have voted with their wallets and become members of the Windows Phone developer community.
  • “The number:” 11,500 – What is an app? It’s a question that really begs some scrutinizing. For us, from the beginning, we have always been focused on quality over quantity. We recognize the importance of getting great apps on our platform and not artificially inflating the number of actual apps available to customer by listing “wallpapers” as a category, or perhaps allowing competitor’s apps to run on the platform to increase “tonnage.” We also don’t believe in the practice of counting “lite” apps as unique quality content. In reality they only exist because developers can’t have a Trial API and must therefore do extra work. Finally, we don’t double and triple count apps which are submitted in multiple languages.

    We respect that determining what is or is not a quality app is subjective, for example eBooks as titles will probably find their way onto the platform en masse. Still, we believe we have the standards and processes in place to continue ensuring that customers have the ability to quickly and easily locate and acquire quality apps and games that extend the value of their phone.

    We’ve been very focused on the quality of the apps in the Marketplace since we first announced the platform one year ago, and we’ve done this by doing what we do best for developers; giving them great tools, tons of sample code and unparalleled support through our incredible Developer & Platform Evangelism team. As a result, we’ve got apps; thousands of them. In fact our ecosystem generated 10,000 apps faster than anyone else, without padding the stats.

  • 7,500 – It’s great to have a platform full of apps, but most developers we speak to are concerned with making money. That’s going to be a function of a few things. You might think that the primary driver is number of handsets in market. Based on the conversations we are having with some of our developers, many are telling us that they are seeing more revenue on our platform than competing platforms, despite the fact that we cannot yet match the sheer number of handsets being sold. For them it’s about truly setting their own price and the ability to get noticed. So far, we have nearly 7,500 apps that are paid in our Marketplace.
  • 1,200 – While the 36,000 registered developers are nice to talk about, the 1,200 newly registered developers we are adding every week is incredibly encouraging. Developers are pragmatists and they are going where there is ample opportunity.
  • 1,100 – Speaking of ad funded apps, there are now 1,100 apps that are generating developer revenue using the Microsoft Advertising Ad Control. Even more impressive is the double digit growth rate of new ad funded apps that are being added to the Windows Phone Marketplace every month. Check out how two student developers and a part-time hobbyist turned their apps into lucrative revenue streams.
  • 12 – Customers love our apps. Love them. Windows Phone customers download an average of 12 apps each month. Considering that the phone has only been widely available for around 4 months, that’s very healthy demand.
  • 1.8 – Nothing upsets developers more than not knowing what is going on with their app during certification. Since opening the Marketplace for application ingestion developers have experienced an average time to certification of 1.8 days. Certification can yield a pass or fail, but developers get an answer on average in days – not weeks, nor months.
  • 62% – When developers are given clear and prescriptive guidance about what is expected of them and their app, it’s only fair to assume that apps will make it through certification quickly. They do. 62% of all apps pass certification on their first attempt. We know that we don’t have it perfect yet and we continue to work with our community to find out how we can be better. For example, when we updated the policy regarding the requirement to provide a support alias based on developer feedback, pass rates grew by almost 10 full percentage points. We will continue to listen to our developer community to ensure that they have a voice in the vetting process while still delivering high quality apps to our collective customers.
  • 44% – Of all the paid apps in the Marketplace, 44% of them include access to a Trial version. Our developers rely on the Trial API available for Windows Phone 7 to drive consumer confidence in their purchases. Trying before you buy…what a concept.
  • 40% – The statistic that gets me the most excited and speaks the most to the work my team has yet to do is the percentage of registered developers who have published their apps. 40% of the fully registered developer population has published an app or game, yet 60% have not yet published. That’s incredibly exciting when you consider the amount of creativity which is still forthcoming.
  • 1 – It only takes one idea. One idea to get you started down the path of building an amazing app or game, reaching millions of people, or maybe just showing off to your friends. It only takes one.

So where do we go from here? To MIX11 of course. Last year was about building credibility and support for Windows Phone. We knew that we had built a different kind of phone and needed to present developers with a new opportunity. Now we are dedicated to evolving the platform to enable more developers to create amazing apps; more possibilities, more functionality, more customers and more markets. At Mobile World Congress we shared a glimpse of what’s to come at MIX11 and we are excited to show developers what’s coming to customers by the end of the year.

We look forward to outlining our purpose and principles for our forthcoming release when we get to MIX11 starting April 12th.

In the meantime, I hope you can see from the data behind “the number” that there’s something special happening with Windows Phone. Developers have been having a ton of fun building amazing apps and games. They’re attracted to the beautiful canvas that is the unique Windows Phone interface, and inspired by a free toolset and amazing resources from our evangelists in every country where we support application ingestion. We look forward to further increasing the engagement and transparency with our developer community, including more visibility into the update release schedules, roadmaps, access to early builds of the new OS and more time with our team. You deserve it. We are nothing without our developers.

Thank you. Thank all of you. And don’t forget: every developer matters. Every. Single. One.