There’s a lot of pushback on Marketplace availability for Windows Phones. Microsoft initially stated that “The Windows Phone Marketplace will support the buying and selling of applications in 17 countries; Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK and United States.” That didn’t stop them from selling phones in other countries so now those users have phones but no software to run on it. And as we all know, the shipped product is rather bare (without YouTube, Adobe or any games). There’s a group trying to raise the awareness of this issue and get Microsoft to open Marketplace to all. Here is their plea:
To: Microsoft Corp.
Windows Phone 7 devices are now available in many countries around the world and we love them. Yet the Windows Phone App Marketplace is only available in 17 countries. Customers in other countries are stuck with smartphones with no access to any 3rd party apps unless they cheat and change their country/region in numerous places. And even then most of them can’t buy paid apps with their perfectly valid credit cards based on the country they were issued.
There are no reasons given why there’s no access to the marketplace in these other countries even though the phones are officially on sale by local mobile operators. One can only guess what those reasons are. The only remotely logical explanation is that you want to localize the marketplace into local languages and currencies for these regions before allowing access. This probably makes some sense in larger markets like Russia or China where the phones aren’t available yet (probably because OS is not localized into their languages). However the phones are available for purchase via official channels in many countries around the world (probably all countries in European Union) even though there’s no localized user interface for these countries. Customers who make informed decision to buy a phone with English UI wouldn’t mind that Marketplace is in English too. What they do mind is that their new shiny smartphone has less features than a regular phone.
We are not talking about Music & Video where we understand that not everything is in your hands. We are talking about your own app marketplace.
Not only this affects consumers, but developers loose a substantial amount of sales simply because they can only sell to customers in 17 countries for no apparent reason.
We would like to ask you to allow access to the international marketplace worldwide or, at the very least, for customers in all the countries were the phones are available, as soon as possible. In case there are objective reasons why this is not possible we would kindly ask you to inform the general public of the issues involved and a roadmap for the worldwide availability of the marketplace.
A phone with no access to 3rd party applications could hardly be called a smartphone. And, even though we love Windows Phone 7, we can hardly recommend it to our local peers at this point.