December 22, 2014 1:18 pm

Windows and Windows Phone Store Trends – December 2014 Update

This blog is the latest in a recurring series that provides details about recent Store trends across categories, markets, and more. Understanding these trends can help you determine what types of apps to build or where to focus your development efforts. Data from the Windows Store is presented alongside the Windows Phone Store, allowing you to make better decisions for all the apps you publish regardless of the device(s) you target.

This December update includes several new analyses: downloads by phone memory size, downloads by phone model, benefits of carrier billing, and analysis of the best revenue-generating prices used for in-app purchase items.

Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 Adoption Trends
Windows: Windows 8.1 is now the primary operating system for Windows Store. In November the vast majority of downloads (approx. 92%) of Windows Store apps were from customers running Windows 8.1.

Windows Phone: Windows Phone 8.1 now represents 65% of Windows Phone downloads while downloads from Windows Phone devices running 7.x account for less than 5%.

Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 provide the benefit of increased functionality for customers, and universal Windows apps for developers. Writing your app for 8.1 on any device allows you to easily convert to a universal project and manage one set of source code to target both Windows and Windows Phone.

Targeting Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 also offers enhancements to make development easier, such as using XAML and WinJS. With 8.1 now the primary OS version for both platforms, it is a great time to upgrade your 7.x and 8.0 apps.

The two graphs below show the download source for both Windows and Windows Phone apps and games, and the increasing adoption of Windows and Windows Phone 8.1.


­­­Windows and Windows Phone app download source – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

Windows Phone Device Breakdown
Another increasingly important element to think about is the variety of Windows Phone devices available and their capabilities. The most common Windows Phone device today is the Lumia 520, representing more than a quarter of all app downloads.

This chart shows the percentage of downloads by device memory. It’s important to note that for Windows Phone 7.x devices a low-memory device is defined as 256MB or less of RAM, but on 8.x devices low-memory is 512MB or less of RAM, and the chart accounts for this distinction. With 71% of downloads now coming from low-memory devices, you can more than double your potential market by optimizing your app to run on low memory devices. If that’s not possible, consider creating a version with lower memory requirements to offer alongside your primary apps.

App downloads per phone memory – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

App downloads per phone memory – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

Low-memory devices account for the top five devices based on total downloads, and seven of the top ten. The chart below shows the top phone models by memory type, and the percentage of downloads from each.

Downloads by phone model and memory – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

Downloads by phone model and memory – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

Downloads Per Category
In November, Games was the most popular category for all devices, followed by Tools & Productivity, Music & Videos, and Social. Since we’ve begun posting these trend updates, we’ve seen categories and rankings become fairly stable. The main exception has been the Game category for Windows, which continues to grow and now accounts for 42% of all downloads on Windows.

Downloads per category – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

Downloads per category – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

Categories with Highest Incremental Download Opportunity
It’s also helpful to understand which categories have the highest ratio of downloads per app. This is a function of total downloads versus total available apps in that category. For example, while Games is the most-downloaded category, Social has more downloads per available app.

Index of average number of downloads per app, in each category – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

Index of average number of downloads per app, in each category – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

Social is currently the #1 category in both Stores, with Photos, Games and Tools & Productivity in the top five for both Stores, a trend that has been steady for the past 6 months. If your goal is to reach the maximum number of downloads possible, analyze these categories to understand which present the highest potential for your apps.

Downloads by Market
Windows Store is available in 242 markets, and Windows Phone Store in 191 markets. As you localize your apps for consumers outside your home market, consider which other markets are generating the largest number of downloads and if they might be relevant to your apps.

Index of average number of downloads per app, in each category – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

Index of average number of downloads per app, in each category – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

The market with most downloads is United States, though the distribution of downloads shows there are many markets generating a significant number of downloads, such as China, India, France, United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico and Russia. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t consider other markets as well. Your apps may have specific characteristics more suitable to these markets.

Expansion of Carrier Billing: first in China, India and Brazil
Many of the markets with high number of app downloads have low credit card penetration, making it difficult for these customers to purchase apps from most global app stores. The Windows and Windows Phone Store supports several alternate payment options including: Alipay, PayPal, and carrier billing (Windows Phone only) with 81 partners in 46 markets. Additions this December include Verizon Wireless in the U.S., as well as mobile carriers in new markets such as India, Vietnam, Brazil, and China, all of which are in the top Windows Phone markets. With these additions, the Store now has established connections with 46% of all subscribers worldwide, more than any other major smartphone platform supports today (Source: Ovum World Cellular Information Service). For more information about recent carrier billing announcements and the customer reach potential, please refer to this blog post: Windows Store is first to bring carrier billing to China, India and Brazil.

Languages of Windows Store Customers
Language is a key driver of downloads and adoption. You can extend the reach of your apps by supporting additional languages.

Primary language of Windows Store customers – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

Primary language of Windows Store customers – Worldwide, Nov. 2014

Offering your apps in English only will reach roughly 25% of Windows Phone customers, and 28% of tablet and PCs users. Adding Spanish, Mandarin, Brazilian Portuguese, and Russian increases coverage to more than 50% of Store customers.

Don’t know where to start? Learn how to localize your Windows and Windows Phone apps.

Monetization Options
Another important decision is which monetization model or models to adopt: paid apps, in-app purchase, or in-app advertising (showing ads in the app). Revenue analysis from November 2014 shows that all three models are generating significant revenue, though in-app purchase and advertising generated the most revenue.

For both Windows and Windows Phone Stores, advertising is a growing source of revenue, and in November it rose to 53% of total revenue. It’s important to note that November and December are the months where advertisers tend to increase their spending, which can account for part of the growth.

In-app purchase of durable and consumable digital products is also an increasing source of revenue, and generates significantly more revenue than paid apps. Currently, all the top 20 apps and 88% of the top 50 apps use in-app purchasing.

Paid apps continue to decline as a percentage of overall revenue as well as in absolute revenue. In August 2014, paid apps generated roughly 20% of developer revenue, dropping to 11% as of November 2014.

Developer payout by source - Worldwide, Nov 2014

Developer payout by source – Worldwide, Nov 2014

If your Windows Phone apps generate revenue from ads, we encourage you to implement Windows ad mediation, a simple solution designed to help you manage multiple in-app advertising SDKs while increasing ad fill rate and revenue. In our testing, ad mediation delivered a fill rate of over 95% as well as a revenue increase of up to 200%. Of course, results vary by market and app.

The April 2014 //build presentation, ‘Maximizing Revenue for Phone, Tablet and PC Apps in the Windows Store’ has more detail about the different revenue models, and shares best practices for choosing a model and then optimizing for maximum revenue.

In-App Purchase
In-app purchase is becoming a staple in both Windows and Windows Phone apps, across a wide range of options and price points. Today, in-app purchases account for 35% of developer revenue.

In the Windows and Windows Phone Store Trends – September 2014 blog we shared that all of the top 20 highest grossing apps were using in-app purchase, along with 44 of the top 50 highest grossing apps. And, the revenue generated from in-app purchase continues to increase month over month.

This month we investigated the in-app purchase price points that generate the most revenue. We found that lower price points do not necessarily lead to higher revenue. While the majority of in-app purchases in the Windows Phone Store are at price points below $2.00, the top 3 highest grossing price points, ordered by total revenue, are $9.99, $4.99, and $19.99. In short, in-app pricing does not have to be low to be profitable. 

Source: Top in-app price points, Microsoft, Worldwide, Nov 2014*

Source: Top in-app price points, Microsoft, Worldwide, Nov 2014*

*Top 10 highest revenue price points in Windows Phone apps and games, in order of total revenue: $9.99, $4.99, $19.99, $1.99, $0.99 $49.99, $79.99. $99.99, $2.99, $3.99. Revenue is a result of number of apps using the price point, the number of times the in-app item is purchased, and the price of the item.


For Further Analysis
We recommend you take some time to browse through the app catalog in the categories you want to develop for, analyzing the top apps in each category to see what makes these apps successful based on the trends data provided.

We also suggest you begin developing for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 as it is quickly becoming the primary operating system for customers. The best way to do this is to create universal Windows apps, which allow you to develop and edit with one source code for both platforms. For your Windows Phone apps, we also strongly urge you to consider using Windows ad mediation or the in-app purchase model to increase your app revenue.

We hope this data can help inform your decisions on investment areas for new apps and app updates. Please share your ideas on additional data that would help you keep building better Windows apps. We expect to add more analyses in the future, so your ideas will help us plan our upcoming quarterly updates.

Updated February 28, 2015 9:26 pm

Join the conversation

  1. Things need to be added, improved, modifying or even be developed in any update or upcoming version of Windows Phone – in my opinion – are as follows :

    System Improvements :

    1- Windows Phone must include a System , folder & files Management app as embedded app rather than an external or independent limited functions app . Also files Explorer or Files Management app should handle all files ( whatever it was ) that are being transfered through Bluetooth and shows save location on the mobile .

    2- Install applications from external memory ( SD Card ) without needing to Internet connection , as well as doing search in the phone using Bing search button without need for an Internet connection .

    3- Allow phone book contacts linking to any of Social or communication , dialing or calling apps , such as Line , Telegram , KakaoTalk & WhatsApp as an example and not being limited to Skype, Facebook or Linkedin only .

    4- Windows Phone must support running Adobe flash files ( swf & flv ) , Animated GIFs & Java files to be run & play on all WP8 devices .

    5- Fix consuming huge amounts of data on memory by installed apps , the matter that often not found on a PC! .

    6 – one of many defects / faults / shortcomings in WP 8.1 is that user can’t add any apps by himself to run within apps for video calls that exist in phone settings , nor adding apps in notifications action center , or apps that its status can be appear on lock screen , unlike ( rather than ) predefined apps by system itself , as well as , there is no ( choice / function / option ) to add an application that can be used to run different function , such as selecting Adobe photoshop Express to be within apps that can run picture files captured .

    7- There is no data connection switching & data speed connection type ( 4,3,2 G ) switching function in WP 8.1 notifications + actions center as well as Alarms function .

    8- Support memory Card readers and flash USB through mobile’s micro USB .

    9- improving Device hub function which display all connecting devices , but doesn’t allow access to nor control or operate it .

    10- Support recognize handwriting that support Arabic language & applications that support Arabic handwriting

    11 – there are duplicated features in its functions such as backup & sync my settings , Advertising id & IE privacy protection , NOKIA account & email + accounts , Network + & phone settings , about & extras + info , display & brightness function , rate us & feedback function .

    12- Enhancing Backup function for SMS Messaging .

    13- one of many defects / faults / shortcomings is that when someone want to add a contact phone number , WP 8.1 doesn’t let you select your save place or method , whether it was on sim card , SD card , phone memory or your Microsoft account , unfortunately WP save it directly only on your MS account by default .
    Applications improvements :

    1- Much bigger support for major & significant applications in all areas and categories .

    2- Improving & Enhancing Office document working experience & make preloaded or saved html browsed files can be readable easily .

    Office Mobile that’s run on WP is extremely primitive , unlike Android office suite Kingsoft Office that include most of desktop office suite features & WP 8.1 Office app still run with a primitive edition that was running on Symbian powered NOKIA mobiles in the early second millennium !

    3- Must support & providing with Google apps & services , such as : Gmail , Google Drive , Translate , Maps , Earth , Youtube , Books , Google Chrome , Cloud Print , Voice , Wallet , Sites , Scholar , Panoramio .

    4- Develop & improve group video calls apps that can send and share various file types plus adding simultaneous group sharing or common group action / work for the same file in the same moment feature. that means you can open a video file for watching while all participants can watch it playing in the same time . Also we can open an app like papyrus and all what we do writing in is shown for all participants in the same time and also they can do writing in and save what they have done. Also, when playing audio file, all participants can listen to it at the same time ( this is completely different from upload and sharing feature and may looks like web conferencing ).

    5- Improving & Enhancing Remote Access apps & technologies for Devices & Systems Administration .
    Browser improvements :

    1- Adding Save Page as feature for html webpages that have been saved through G.Chrome in Windows 7 or have been browsed through IE 11 on WP 8.1 .

    2- an important functions in IE doesn’t exist or discarded , such as home page button & Navigation buttons ( back & forward ) .
    Store Improvements :

    1- resolve problem of store restricted download for certain apps that are dedicated to particular region .

    2- Install applications from external memory ( SD Card ) without needing to Internet connection .

    Maps Improvements :

    Enhancing maps applications by adding ability to add places and landmarks to the map by the user , for example when I go for a trip or a picnic , I pass with someplace or landmark , such as a shopping mall , pharmacy or bookshop , … etc where I like to add and save such this location data ( Name , info & details ) on map , then find it later through search function on this app like here maps or here drive .
    Wallet Improvements :

    WP 8.1 Wallet should be improved to support and accept shop , buy from and payment for various websites and online stores , such as ebay , Amazon & Ali express and not being limited to buy from and pay for Microsoft stores only .
    Also , WP 8.1 Wallet became so primitive , because it is not ordered and categorized like previous WP version ( 8 ) , where you can name every card , set its details & infos and let ( allow ) you add various types of payment cards , such as : debit cads , offers : discounts coupons , subscriptions , memberships , prepaid cards , bank accounts ( your online mobile banking service data ) & E- payment accounts like Paypal rather than improve it to accept and support Mastercard paypass , electronic bill payment ( gas, electricity , water , telephone , any purchases ) like a POS machine , however it isn’t like this in recent version of WP ( 8.1 ) . All the matter that Wallet takes or sync your raw , primary and so basic data as it is from your account on Microsoft ! and don’t let you make any additions , modification or any specific customization .
    Display & lock screen Improvements :

    1- Make alerts & notifications on lock screen are interactive .

    2- there is no news reader function / feature on lock screen like rss feeds .

    3- Support wireless screen content sharing : Clone View , Miracast , WiDi ( WiFi Display ) , screen mirroring on large displays for all WP8.1 devices .
    Print & printing improvements :

    Support Wireless & Network printing for Office , Pdf , html & picture files or from any readable applications ( such as : news apps , health & fitness apps , some business apps , Education & books + reference apps ) .
    Networks & Connection Improvements:

    1- Expand WiFi , Bluetooth profiles & other wireless connecting technologies uses and functionality to include other technologies unlike ( rather than being limited to ) Bluetooth & WiFi , such as : WiFi direct , WiDi , Miracast , …etc .

    2- Adding Wi-Fi direct feature for all WP devices to send any files through a Wi-Fi Connection directly.

    3- Support wireless connecting to various devices , networking with & access to such as PCs & Printers for files sharing or exchanging , management.
    Hardware improvements :

    1- Support recognize handwriting that support Arabic language & applications that support Arabic handwriting.

    2- Support memory Card readers and flash USB through mobile’s micro USB .
    Security & Protection Improvements :

    improve device security and protection against stealing , like making an app for detect the person who enter invalid lock key to open the device .