Expanded developer opportunity – new payout markets and billing connections

We continue to take steps forward on the path to establish a Windows Phone ecosystem characterized by quality, scale, and developer opportunity. We are seeing strong results for the ecosystem since the launch of Windows Phone 8 with more than a 100% increase in app downloads and nearly 140% increase in paid app revenue. Today I have a few enhancements to announce that can help you expand your app distribution reach and revenue opportunities.

Diverse phone offering and distribution

Nokia’s Lumia 720 and 520/521 phones have just begun to ship across the globe, giving potential Windows Phone customers additional choices in form factor, phone capabilities, and price points. This review from CNET (Nokia Lumia 520 review: One of the best budget phones around) pretty much sums up the sentiment on the new device, stating the Lumia 520 packs an “impressive punch” both in terms of hardware quality and value for the money.

These phones will be available in new markets and distribution channels, given their budget-friendly pricing. In fact, this week the Nokia Lumia 521 paired with an offer from US mobile operator T-Mobile to make its debut on the popular US Home Shopping Network, a first for Windows Phone.

The industry continues to recognize Windows Phone steady growth. According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Windows Phone has already increased its share of all smartphone sales by nearly 2% compared to last year and is attracting first-time smartphone buyers. With over half of the US market (and much of the world) still owning a feature phone, it’s likely many will upgrade over the coming year, which ultimately will contribute to growth for Windows Phone.

Six new developer payout markets

This week we will enable developer payout in 6 new markets via Dev Center bringing the total markets supporting developer payout to 122. The new markets include: Afghanistan, Iraq, Montenegro, Serbia, Timor-Leste, and Ukraine. Developers in these 6 markets will now be able to submit both free and paid apps to the Windows Phone Store to reach customers in 191 markets.

New Mobile Operator Billing Connections

We have added 15 new mobile operator billing partners since August 2012, bringing the total number of supported partners to 25 in 19 markets, surpassing Google Play.  Mobile operator billing gives consumers a payment option with significantly higher conversion rates than credit cards.  On average, an app developer earns 3x more per active user on a paid app published in a mobile operator billing-enabled market than a market that only supports credit card. We will continue to expand this footprint and you’ll be seeing many more connections in the near future.

Simplified app submissions

Finally, I want to point out that we continue to incorporate your feedback and streamline the app submission process. Recently the Dev Center team enabled cancelling submissions, rotating screenshots and automatic screenshot resizing – all items you indicated needed improvement. You can read more about these enhancements on the Windows Phone Developer blog. Next, we’ll add the ability to review your app submission, giving you a chance to make sure everything looks right, before you actually submit. I encourage you to watch for a post from Rushmi Malaviarachchi in the coming week that will provide details on all the latest improvements.

If you haven’t yet developed an app for Windows Phone or if you haven’t updated your app recently, I’d like to encourage you to visit the Dev Center to download the SDK and get started. There’s never been a better time to develop for Windows Phone.