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As the 2013 //build/ conference gets underway, I wanted to check in to share an update on our progress toward our goal of fostering a Windows Phone ecosystem characterized by quality, scale, and developer opportunity. I’ve also got a special offer to announce to encourage those of you who haven’t yet published a Windows Phone app to join us. Think of it as a “summer break.”
Windows Phone – the 3rd ecosystem
We believe we have the right strategy at the right time to accelerate developer opportunity faster than any other smartphone platform. In fact, our internal estimates indicate that Windows Phone is growing 6x faster than the overall smartphone market. But don’t take our word for it…
The Q1 2013 numbers from industry analysts, including Kantar and IDC, all report rapidly accelerating Windows Phone unit sales and market share growth. In fact, according to the IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker (May 2013), Windows Phone posted the largest year-over-year (YOY) gain among the leading operating systems (131% YOY), more than doubling in size from a year ago, and leapfrogging BlackBerry for 3rd place. In Q1 2013, according to IDC, Windows Phone shipped more units than BlackBerry in 33 markets, and more units than iPhone in 11 markets. Gains by Windows Phone demonstrate user demand, OEM support, and the need for alternatives in the smartphone market.
Based on Microsoft estimates, currently there are 4 billion feature phone users worldwide. According to Kantar, 52% of the US Windows Phone buyers are upgrading from feature phones. With 50% of the US market owning a feature phone today, we expect upgrades to be a big contributor to Windows Phone growth in 2013. Kantar is also reporting that 23% of the people who purchased a Windows Phone in the last year moved over from an Android device. (Kantar Worldpanel ComTech US Consumer Panel, April 2013),
Creating this momentum are our device and mobile operator partners who are bringing innovative new phones to market across a wide range of price points, and providing customers with a real choice. A few recent announcements:
Increasing monetization opportunity
People who purchased a Windows Phone in the last year are downloading and purchasing apps at the highest rates in Windows Phone history. Transaction volumes in the Windows Phone Store now are reaching 200 million per month, with a 2.5x increase in daily revenue since the launch of Windows Phone 8. Developer revenue growth is being driven by unit sales but also by the removal of consumer purchase barriers through expansion of mobile operator billing connections and new payment options like PayPal and Alipay in China with over 800 million subscribers. We’ve enabled carrier billing with 30 carriers connected across 20 markets so far, ahead of Google Play. Just as encouraging, when carrier billing is put in place in a market, we see an overall 6-8x lift in paid transactions in emerging markets (where credit card use is low), and a 3x uplift in more developed markets.
We’re also investing in new programs to drive traffic and to encourage users to check out the Store’s 160,000+ apps and games. This includes the recent launch of a weekly deal program, Red Stripe Deals, which offers users the opportunity to purchase one app, one indie game, and one Xbox game each week, at a savings of at least 50%. So far there has been an average 4x lift in net revenue for developers featured in each week of promotion, with revenue lift for up to 4 weeks following the promotion as a result of increased rankings and exposure in high-traffic areas of the Store.
And we have more in the works, including Microsoft Gift Cards, coming this fall. The new gift cards give users the ability to add money to their Microsoft account to purchase apps, games, and more for Xbox, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8. In addition, Xbox is retiring Microsoft Points and, in connection with that retirement, users will receive a one-time local currency credit equal to or greater than the marketplace value of their remaining Microsoft Points balance. The credit will be available this fall in users’ Microsoft accounts for shopping on Xbox, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.
We continue to address your feedback through improvements to the Dev Center app submission workflow, including the option to cancel a submission, the ability to manually manipulate or automatically resize screenshots, and the ability to review a submission before you submit. Over the past couple of months, we’ve also reduced app certification completion time from the standard 5 business days to an average of less than 3 business days (results vary and apps do take a few hours to be visible upon completion of certification). We continue to streamline the process to deliver faster completion times, improve consistency, and add clarity to test results. Please continue to provide us with feedback via the Windows Phone Dev Center UserVoice Forum. We’re listening.
Finally, many of you have asked for information about when we will be promoting your app via on-device and online merchandising so you can align your promotional efforts to drive added impact. This week we’re launching a pilot program to notify app developers of planned merchandising placement a few days in advance. Watch for more on this in a future post as we begin global rollout in the next couple of months. You’ll want to be sure to download one of the newly refreshed Windows Phone Store badges to start promoting your app on your website and in your marketing campaigns. Badges are now available in added formats, sizes, languages and color options to better align with your creative and space requirements. Here are a few examples:
$19 “Summer Break” limited time offer - start publishing apps for Windows Phone today
Summer is a great time for vacations, having fun, and building apps. We want to help you make the most of all three, so for the next 60 days we’re offering a “Summer Break” on Dev Center registration with a $19 annual registration fee (normally $99 for individuals and companies). We know many of you have downloaded the SDK, have started building an app, and just haven’t had the time to finish and publish your creation. Now you have the opportunity to do so. If you could use a little help getting started, this week we published a refresh to our popular educational series – Windows Phone 8 Development for Absolute Beginners.
We truly believe Windows Phone offers you a canvas and the platform to design and develop apps that offer a unique and personalized experience that other platforms don’t offer. Not only will your app look better with our unique UI and Live Tile experience, but with the integration of Windows Phone software with hardware innovations from partners like Nokia, your apps can actually do more. We’re seeing users respond positively to this approach: overall customer satisfaction ratings for Windows Phone are now higher than BlackBerry and Android (Microsoft Customer Satisfaction Study Q1CY13, May 2013).
Investing in the future
At the launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, we moved to a common core, a shared UI, and a standard toolset. Windows 8.1, announced this week, continues to build on that common core, and adding capabilities that encourage app usage, without changing tools or technologies the developer community uses to build apps today. We will do the same with Windows Phone – we’re designing the next release to run existing Windows Phone apps and games with the same tools and the same technologies you’re using today.
If you’re attending //build/ this week, you’ll want to attend the Windows Phone sessions to learn more from our team of technical PMs. For those of you who are not able to attend, you can view the live stream or review the sessions on Channel 9 after the close of the event.
We continue to invest in the Windows Phone developer platform to give you ways to reach more users across more devices—all using the same tools and skills you already know. That’s true today, and it’s true for our next release, which we’re designing to run the same apps you’re building now, on a next-generation platform. The time is right to see for yourself just how easy it is to bring your app to life on Windows Phone.
I tried all may credit cards, all with left credit, but it just don't Works. Why it doesn't accept PayPal?
I'd like to suggest having a lower annual rate for your developer account if you just want to create applications for yourself or provide them for free to others in the store. If you want to earn money from either adverts or paid applications then you pay the full price.
I signed up for the special $8 price last year so I could write my owns things for my Lumia 920. I've had a blast doing it. When my renewal comes round later this year I can't justify $99 just to put my own apps on my own phone. $20 is probably the maximum I'd pay for the privilege.
I have to agree with the previous posters. It would be nice if the offer was extended to existing customers, customers who have supported the platform from the beginning. This would be the second year that an offer like this has happened and if your subscription does not renew within that period you are out of luck. It's true that the amount is small, however, it's just shows Microsoft is thinking of both new and existing customers.
We’ve received a number of questions about the terms of the $19 “Summer Break” limited time offer. The offer is valid for 60 days (6/26 – 8/27) and applies to new registrations, as well as to renewals for accounts that expire in that same 60-day period. Renewals cannot be paid in advance.
I just signed up for a Windows Phone Dev Center subscription on June 15. The subscription does not appear my Microsoft account yet. Is there any way I can get the lower price?
Can we add a year to existing, active account with this offer to avoid paying $100 when the account expires?