Marketplace Momentum

Marketplace Momentum

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Being at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has me feeling both excited and proud. I’m excited to show off Windows Phone 7 Series and eager to dig into the details with our developer community at events like GDC and MIX next month. MWC also marks the one year anniversary of the promise we made to deliver a new kind of application marketplace in Windows Marketplace for Mobile. I couldn’t be more proud of the marketplace that Microsoft, the developer community, and our MO partners established and am pleased to announce several new development tools and updates.

For the past year we’ve been working to create a new kind of application marketplace; one that delivers quality applications and a great shopping experience, while offering developers a more direct opportunity to reach customers with clear guidance and insight into certification standards and processes. Marketplace has only been available for four months and in that time I have been pleased to hear from several of our partners about their apps taking off. Where some application stores optimize for high volume and low price, we reasoned that customers and developers alike would benefit from a marketplace that offered high quality certified applications that are priced and merchandised to reflect their value to customers. So far it’s working. For the last 4 months, while the average asking price of all paid apps is $6.26, the average app sales price on Marketplace is $5.36. This low delta between average asking and sales price reflects a high symmetry between perceived and actual value. To date, we feature more than 1245 applications from more than 1325 registered ISVs.

In addition to helping developers reach customers and make money, we’ve continued to improve the predictability and speed at which we do vetting and certification. Since we launched in October, our average vetting time has dropped from 30 to 10 days and our average time to certify has dropped from 12 to less than 5 days with less variation.

Some of the biggest beneficiaries of Windows Marketplace are the winners of our Race to Market Challenge, the contest launched last summer to see whose apps could generate the most downloads and revenue in the first 100 days. For months, ISVs competed for early access to a new market of Windows Phone customers … some may also have been motivated by the grand prize, a Microsoft Surface table. Well, we’re just passed the 100 day mark, and I’m pleased to announce today our winners who have combined great applications with effective marketing and pricing strategies to win!

  • The winner for most downloaded app is Meon Lite from Manbolo. Manbolo did a great job of releasing early (3 days after the marketplace opened) and used a compelling free version of Meon to drive broad awareness and then converting interest into upsell sales of its full purchase product. Congratulations! Check out Meon Lite and download it now here.
  • The winner for highest value generated is SPB Mobile Shell from SPB Software. SPB executed its pricing strategy very well by setting a $29.99 price in the US that reflected its real value to optimize total revenue. Congratulations SPB Software! Check out Marketplace’s best selling application and download it now here.

As for the Marketplace service itself, over the next few days we will be rolling out several important updates to enhance the experience for both customers and developers.

Customer experience improvements

  • World View: A new World View feature will allow Marketplace users to browse and purchase applications from a different geographical catalog. For example, a customer here in Barcelona could choose to browse the English US catalog, or a customer in Canada could browse the catalog from Japan.
  • Installation onto storage cards: Customers are downloading a lot of apps, sometimes more than the memory available on the phone. So, we are now enabling people to install applications downloaded from Marketplace onto storage card memory.
  • Better application discovery. As the selection of apps grows, we want to make sure customers can find the application they’re looking for and introduce new simple ways to discover apps they might be interested in. First we’ve added a smart search function that enables users to search for apps or games that include any of the terms included to describe the apps, so customers get more relevant search results on the phone or the web. Second, we’ve added an additional viewing option we call the Themed Showcase that organizes applications by genre, interest, seasonality, theme or even an ISV specific view for those ISVs with a lot of applications or games
  • New store opening. We’re also now opening Marketplace for commerce in Russia, enabling Windows phone users in one or the fastest growing Windows Phone markets to buy apps, and developers and ISVs based in Russia to submit them. Welcome!

For additional exciting announcements in the consumer space, be sure to check out Liz Sloan’s blog here.

Developer experience improvements

  • Free app submissions to additional markets: ISVs will no longer have to pay a $10 fee for submitting applications to additional markets. Once an application has been certified for a primary market as part of the existing $99 submission fee, ISVs can now submit for free that same application to as many other catalogs as they want, as long as they meet the current Market Validation guidelines.
  • Applications policy changes: We are also taking this opportunity to make some changes to the existing application acceptance policies, and are now allowing VoIP applications that use a carrier network, unless explicitly prohibited by a mobile operator.
  • Improved registration, submission and management process. We’ve welcomed and acted on a lot of feedback from ISVs on how we can improve things. We’ve listened, and fixed a lot of the problems and annoyances you’ve told us about to make it easier to register, submit applications for multiple markets, and simplify the update process. You’ll see them all over. Tell us what you think and keep the feedback coming

I’m also happy to share that we are introducing a Windows Mobile 6.5.3 Developer Toolkit (DTK) which includes support for a new generation of Windows Mobile 6.5 phones that include capacitive touch screens. For a quick summary of the differences between the SDK and the DTK, I encourage you to read this blog. The DTK comes packed with some pretty cool new features you can add to your application like a Bing Map Control, Widget VS Integration, Bubble Tiles, Auto Dialog Layout, and more. I encourage you to download the DTK here and take advantage of some new tools and new features.

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about a new twitter account @toddbrix, I’ve set-up to more frequently share my thoughts on commercial, merchandising and marketing best practices, opportunities and ahead of the curve insight to make the most out of your investment on Windows Phone both now and with the upcoming release of Windows Phone Series 7. Speaking of which, I’d also encourage you to follow Charlie Kindel, @ckindel as he will be sharing more about the upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series development platform. We’ll also be sharing a lot more about both our development platform and marketplace service at MIX10 hope to see you there.

We told you last year that we would deliver a new kind of application marketplace, and we told you in October that we’d continue to deliver a meaningful updates to Windows Phones and Windows Marketplace for Mobile. We are excited to stand true to our promises and look forward to an exciting year.

Stay tuned, we’re just getting started!

Todd Brix

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  • Aha! Its a great relief to know that we dont need to submit the same application 8 times to each English speaking market and be charged for it 8 times too. When does it get into effect from? I am eagerly awaiting to push my applications to the other English speaking markets.