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Microsoft trying to avoid 99-cent apps

Microsoft threw a little dev camp yesterday at the mother ship in Washington, and there was some interesting discussion regarding app prices in the upcoming Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

Said Loke Uei, of Microsoft's Mobile Development Experience team (and a fan favorite around these parts) as reported by Techflash: [via Engadget]

"It's up to you play your pricing, but we would definitely want to promote that you make more money selling applications than selling your application in a dollar store. ... I know, 99 cents is interesting — yes, consumers like to pay 99 cents for applications. But 99 cents, come on, I think your app is worth more than that."

We've had many a drag-out fistfight rational discussion with our counterparts at The iPhone Blog over this one. (And their argument for a premium app store is worth discussing.) Consumers certainly win when apps are priced at 99 cents. Developers? Not so much. And when one app is priced at, say, $4.99 and a very similar app is priced at 99 cents, well, it's easy to see who's going to win that battle. Price doesn't necessarily point to an app's "worth."

One thing that certainly will be different with Microsoft's app store (and, yes, we're going to be repeating ourselves yet again here) is that a large number of the apps available at launch already are available today, and not at 99-cent price points.

Take Kinoma Play, for example. At $29.99 it's one of the more expensive Windows Mobile applications we've bought — and worth every penny we paid. We have a hard time imagining the price dropping to $1 or even $5, just because it's in Microsoft's app store. (That said, some sort of Marketplace launch discount shouldn't be out of the question.)

Microsoft's point is this: Developers' works are worth more than 99 cents, and they should be going for quality (as in greater revenue) over quantity (selling as many copies as possibly cheaply). And that's why the Race to Market Challenge will have two winners in the paid category: one for most downloads, and the other for total revenue generated.

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

12 Comments
  • Only having the option to buy an out dated WM 2003 version of an app for $30 dollars is why I do not like Windows Mobile. I am much happier with my iPhone now.
  • Odd, none of the programs I'm running on my Treo Pro are outdated WM2003 versions. In fact, the programs that I've purchased are continually updated and have excellent support from the developer. Yes, at least one was what I'd call expensive--$30 for a GPS program--but it is a very well executed piece of software that has exactly the functionality I need to track my mountain bike rides.
  • Wouldn't it be cool to have a Microsoft discussion without going into iPhone merits?
  • It would, wouldn't it? Besides if the dev doesnt update his app, how is that the OS's fault?
  • this is what happens when you have loser iphone fanboys who frequent WM boards. Worst of all, are the type that compare kinoma play, or any other premium app (anything over 20 bones is premium to me) to a wm2003 app. That thing is seriously at least 5 apps in one for me, probably 10 in 1, or 15-1 in for people who use other things like last fm, idisk etc, which i dont.
  • Hmmm. Having the ability to load and run 5 year old apps, that are no longer maintained is actually a BENEFIT to me. Sure, the new ones are spiffy, but sometimes there's a niche that was filled ... once. I'm very much looking forward to the Marketplace ... *ahem*.... OPTION for obtaining software. I sincerely doubt Handago, PocketGear are going anywhere. The Marketplace fills a need - the need for people to have a 'feel good' icon preloaded on the phone for app shopping. It's not often that someone can show me an app on /another platform/ that does not also exist on Windows Mobile. The reverse is not the same -- lots of apps exist on Windows Mobile that would be frowned upon on the iPhone/Blackberry/Nokia stores.
  • I feel there is a third option in that survey, Microsoft is trying to avoid being flooded with useless farting and boob jiggling programs that may clutter the market place making useful apps like Kinoma Play slightly harder to find for someone just browsing for applications. Although most people reading this site are probably able to dig up an app for just about anything, there are people out there with Windows Mobile phones that just aren't that great at navigating through a field of crap to find a gem. I think this application process is going to be wonderful in preventing people from submitting loads of useless into the marketplace. This notion for developers to step out of the bargain bin territory seems like an attempt to get developers to create apps that are worth over a dollar and might be seen as a "must have" where their revenue stream can soar.
  • I'm not too fond of this idea. I guess it's a good idea on paper - we'll reward you for quality. But what happens after the Marketplace opens? Will there still be incentives for the devs to keep up quality? Is MS going to keep the incentives rolling? As a consumer, I really like how Jobs encourages prices to stay at a minimum, it all stemmed from $.99 song downloads from iTunes. What about people who loves to keep up with the latest phone? I usually get a new phone every year... Am I supposed to buy Kinoma Play for $30 each time I get a new phone? Yes, many will offer a discount if you ask them, but it's no more than 50% - that's still $15, compared to $0.99. So I am not too sure about this. The high app prices is what I don't like about Windows apps. Pricing standards gotta come down. Doesn't have to come down as low as $.99, but it's gotta come down.
  • Well, look at the prices, look at the conditions, and it's very obvious MS tries to establish a "premium" store. Fart apps won't be there as well as good and working freeware from hobby programmers. (I doubt many of thouse would like to spend hundreds of dollars until the app is finally accepted. For a company, that's peanuts.) Funny thing is, that the experience of WM6.5 goes the other way: Lots of eye-candy, useless stuff like thumbnails on today screen, etc. I really wonder who MS likes to target with Windows Phones. And why that "premium" store? Business users were able to look for certificates, user experience, etc. so far as well, and most "users" have to accept the choice of some administrator anyway (i.e., bare system, some specific apps, otherwise locked). Isn't it more likely the common user looks into the store for some nice tools, games, and, yes, even useless stuff, like it's the case with about any other smartphone? (As for me, I don't understand why MS does this at all. Why not an open interface for existing shops, like e.g. the shops available in Mobipocket Reader? Why do they do this to all the (so far) existing shops?)
  • I wonder where this idea that "cost = quality" came from? For years, it's the expensive desktop applications that have come with frustrating bugs and inadequate support. I'm talking about Microsoft Office, Money, IE, etc. It's usually the free forum support and independently developed utilities and apps that have come to my rescue, and why Office with probably my last software purchase Now Microsoft is trumpeting the same tired philosophy for their app store!? Microsoft, open it up! Let in all comers and let the community sort the wheat from the shaft. It works for Amazon.com, eBay, for shopping on the Internet as a whole. All Microsoft need do is stand-behind and enforce a standardized and generous refund policy.
  • Thank you, but no. I DONT want to wade through hundreds of crap applications to get a decent one, there will be low price and high price apps, with a refund policy you can try both and see which one you prefer but with hundreds of rushed-code, bottom of the barrel apps flooding the market, the quality cant be seen for the sea of rubbish. And comparing it to online stores doesnt really work, do we really want to spend our time looking for the app we want or actually using it?
  • You see MSFT management will never be able to justify the existence of the app store if they don't get a hefty return from it. Also, MSFT and company don't want the idea of having independent developers make money, potentially more money than management. Apple has given developers a platform wherein they can potentially make a lot should their games/apps pan out. Developers in the end would be forced to work for MSFT or their friends on fixed salaries. Apple has become too radical for WS. The talking heads on the business shows would be drooling with envy should these independent developers earn more than them or their trader friends. The problem as MSFT and WS see it, is that, the vehicle provided by oracle disrupts their world. The money that would be spent on these games will deprive their corporate friends of, (what do they call it), liquidity. Empowerment is just lip service in the corporate world. Apple walks the walk while the rest of WS is nothing but talk and platitudes (while they snicker all the way to the bank).