As we all turn our attention to the year ahead I thought I’d take this opportunity to say thank you and share some insight into our plans for building on a very successful 2014. We began the year with a commitment to create opportunities for developers with Windows Store. We made good progress by both attracting over 30% more active users and by exceeding a 110% year-over-year increase in app downloads and gross sales. In addition the ecosystem has grown, with an 80% increase in registered developers and 60% increase in app selection year-over-year.
Providing a platform where developers can be successful remains our number one goal as we look to 2015. We’ll continue working to generate opportunity by delivering a developer-friendly platform that spans devices and geographies, while reducing the amount of time and effort it takes to move from ideas to installs.
There is tremendous excitement building for Windows 10 as we continue to create a more unified platform for targeting the full range of devices that people rely on every day. In the months ahead we’ll have more to share on the developer capabilities that Windows 10 will bring. In the meantime you’ll find that we remain focused on five key areas to help you be successful today and get on track to take advantage of Windows 10, including:
- Expanded payment options in emerging markets with carrier billing
We exit 2014 with new carrier billing connections in the high growth markets of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Mexico and Vietnam for a total of 81 connections across 46 markets. You can expect the pace of new connections to continue, as we see an average transaction volume increase of 8x in emerging markets when carrier billing is enabled. You will also see us work with carriers to more aggressively promote this purchase options to their subscriber base. Carrier billing rounds out a range of payment choices that includes credit cards, Alipay, PayPal and – new this year – app gifting with digital gift cards (available in Canada, France, Germany, the UK and the US) and bitcoin (US only).
- Enhanced monetization options
In-app purchase and in-app advertising currently account for 35% and 58% of Windows Store revenue respectively. In 2014, many developers redesigned their app and game experiences to take advantage of in-app purchase and are seeing positive results both in terms of higher usage and overall monetization – with price points from $0.99 to $99.99 (USD). We are increasing our focus on in-app advertising to help improve fill rates and grow developer revenue. The recent release of Windows ad mediation for Windows Phone developers is one example, improving fill rates to over 95% and increasing revenue up to 200%. We plan to further expand this capability in the coming year.
- Increased options for app discovery
In the past few months we’ve updated the Windows Store UI, opened up Windows Store merchandising slots 55x, enhanced visibility for Collections and added a Deals Hub. We also increased investments in global and local advertising and promotion from Microsoft as well as in collaboration with our device maker and retail partners. We’ll also continue to invest in maintaining a high-quality user experience in 2015.
- Making our platform accessible to all skill levels
Windows App Studio Beta enabled those with great ideas but no development experience to bring their ideas to life. We will continue to enhance this toolset in 2015, integrating new capabilities like the recent addition of TouchDevelop.
- Getting more done in fewer steps
This year we unified and simplified Windows Dev Center registration to a single lifetime registration accompanied by a unified set of policies. We added a new benefits program to provide resources and guidance and we also took the first step to add new capabilities such as the ability to respond to user reviews. We have much more work to do to simplify and unify the experience and you can expect the evolution to continue over the coming months.
If you haven’t done so already, I’d like to encourage you to transition to developing universal Windows apps. Over 90% of the Windows app downloads and more than 65% of Windows Phone app downloads are coming from devices running 8.1. Considering this adoption rate and the platform enhancements of Windows and Windows Phone 8.1, the time is right to update older apps (especially Windows Phone 7 apps that account for less than 5% of downloads). Moving to universal Windows apps expands your opportunity by reaching more devices – phone, tablet and PC – while also getting your apps ready for Windows 10.
I’m excited by the opportunities the new year presents – happy New Year to all of you!