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 Nickinson

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!