imageFor any platform to succeed it has to have apps – that’s why developers are so highly sought for all platforms. Obviously you need a good OS, marketing, etc but if in the end your marketplace fails to garner sales then devs will also shy away and your platform will quickly be minimized.

As a long time Windows Mobile user I was trained to not pay for apps. The attraction of the platform was how open it was and even though there’s no way to know the exact number of apps out there, you could easily go to XDA and tons of other sites to find free apps that fill most of your needs. Of course, MS would eventually open a Windows Mobile marketplace but that was too little too late. Not just was the platform on the way down by then, but fundamentally most WM users weren’t prepared to pay for apps since we came from a mindset that there was a free version of whatever we needed…if only we looked hard enough. It’s not to say that there weren’t some non-replaceable paid apps but even parting with $.99 seemed like something you needed to weigh. But we were trained to act that way through the platform. Then comes Windows Phone and it all changed.

Of course, there’s no more sideloading of apps (well generally at least), so there’s one central location to get all of your apps, free or paid. And you’re immediately trained to go to Marketplace.  I mean, think about it – why don’t they include YouTube, Facebook and Adobe as standard on the phones considering that most users will want them (and if they don’t just press and hold to delete it)? It’s simple – they want you, from day one, to get used to going into the Marketplace and getting confortable downloading apps. So it’s a nice intro on how to click through the downloading process. And then they give you trial modes. You know, get hooked on a great game and you realize that you can only play the first few boards of it. So you know the app/game is good, now for the big question – is it worth a whopping $.99? They make it simple by allowing purchases through a credit card or direct to your phone bill so it’s even easier to not think about an app purchase (unlike WM where you would often go to third party sites and set up a new account for each app with each developer or distributor). Just click yes and it’s yours and instead of a phone bill of $85, it’s now $86…that didn’t hurt a bit. And before you know it you have a new learned behavior.

On my first day with my Focus I downloaded a few free apps (YouTube, Adobe, NetFlix and Weatherbug if my memory serves me correctly) and then did trial modes of Krashlander, Photolab and Thumba and later that same day purchased all three. Since then I’ve bought more apps. The $.99 ones require almost no thought – it’s less than a cup of coffee for what took a dev hours to put together and will give me far more usefulness than a cup of coffee so just click, click, click and I’m happily loaded with another app.

I received a statement from Zune showing me my app purchases and it made me think about how quickly my behavior has changed from a hunter and scourer of apps to a typical iPhone user. Yup, that comparison again…cause it’s true again. Make it this simple to buy apps…make it a learned behavior…and we’ll buy apps and devs will keep making apps and the cycle continues. It’s that simple. And that’s just the beginning because before you know it there’s a trial of Zune and music is being downloaded in the same fashion.

For now I’ll accept that the Windows Phone Marketplace still has room for improvement but their central goal worked. I don’t second guess app purchases (except some of those pricey Xbox titles) and that’s a shift in my behavior and mindset that was instantaneous and I presume that’s true of a lot of you as well. So, is it? Are you buying more apps now than you did before you had a Windows Phone?

Oh and why no discussion about Android? That’s not a market for app sales – that’s an ad revenue center, but more on that for another day…


  1. I do agree, the App Store and the Windows Phone Marketplace is like a mall; you go there to a central location and buy all that you want.

    Android Market, on the otherhand, is like a garage sale; you have to go house to house looking for things which in the end may or may not work right.

  2. I realized late last night that i’m not an “App” guy. I don’t have this insatiable need to constantly by the newest app that hits the market. I like to have apps that are functional more than anything. Luckily Windows Phone Marketplace has that in spades.

    I too made sure to immediately download YouTube, Adobe, AP Mobileand Shazam. Over the next few days i’ve downloaded the Bible, A Bruno Mars song courtesy of using Shazam to capture the song from the tv show Glee then inside Shazam purchasing the song through the Zune Marketplace. I also have purchased Hush Hush personal journal, ilo milo, The Weather Channel, 100Pushups, Facebook, Fandango, IMDb, Foursquare and OptumizeMe.

    At first I was constantly backing out of purchasing apps/games because of the learned behavior of WinMo but got out of it because of the same reasoning as you. Its .99 cents in most cases! I simply eat in one night instead of fast food and preston I can purchse at least 5 apps or 1 Xbox Live game. Yes!!

  3. lol sorry but that sounds horrible!! Its like Iphones locked down gimmicky little sister.. I am coming from WM6.1/6.5 (Touch Pro 1 & TP2) I have an EVO now and since joining the android revolution I have replaced my carrier OS and switched to the completely open source cyanogen mod with nightly updates. I have personally themed any and every visual aspect to my distinct taste and made my device completely unique to me no other mobile operating system allows this.. I also currently have between 75-150 apps and games and I haven’t spent a cent.. Android FTW!!!

  4. @Christopher: And to that I’d ask a simple question: If you were a developer would you rather develop for platforms that encourage practices to make you money or developer for a platform that community purposefully tries to avoid spending any money?

    As an economist I understand very well that it takes money circulating to make this grow and get better.

    Like a recent article said, Android users spend their time “fixing” their phone while Windows Phone users spend their time enjoying their phone.

  5. Hey David K, where is that top application/game list? Sorry to put it on you but you do write for a blog :) j/k. I have only bought The Harvest so far but have a few other essential programs loaded – Adobe, youtube, shazam, IMDB, Xbox Live extras, Unite, twitter, weatherbug.

  6. >I have personally themed any and every visual aspect to my distinct taste

    You must not have much real work to do with your phone if you spend all your time theming it like a 12 year old girl.

    >I also currently have between 75-150 apps and games and I haven’t spent a cent.

    Which is why there are so many marquee apps missing from android despite its popularity. It is not a place people can reliably make money.

  7. I’ve been playing around with android on my fuze for a week or so, and it’s pretty cool, but the marketplace is a shitstorm. Sorry, there’s no other way to put it. There is so much garbage on there, and clones of all the garbage, that it’s hard to find anything decent. I’ve downloaded maybe 50 apps, and kept about 10 of them.

    And it’s not about the apps in my opinion, it’s about the operating system.

  8. I’ve bought a handful of apps – things I’d likely find useful or entertaining. I still find myself thinking about what I’m about to buy before spending that money because it’s still just wise to really consider whether that $1 is worth it or not. It doesn’t seem like much, but it can add up if I just buy whatever looks interesting. Photo-editing app? Cool, but I wouldn’t use it enough to be worth it. Harvest? Still trying it out – haven’t decided. Considering Oregon Trail for my kid. Outside of that, I really need to think about it.

    As for the Marketplace, I think they’d have a much better win by letting us search areas of the Marketplace. I really don’t want artists and albums mixed in with my search results for apps. Hoping that’s a change coming in January because it’s a little limiting when you want to find a particular app. Also hoping some form of synonym search comes about or at least a “related” type search. Sometimes apps are really similar, but named differently.

    I agree that it’s a great way to get people to buy, though. One place, not hundreds. No worries about re-downloading or whether the developer is getting a fair cut (not necessarily, but it’s the same as every other dev).

    Now if we just had a way to filter out tip calculators…. :-)

  9. Actually in my WM world (and PocketPC before that) I had a pretty even mix between paid and free apps. Tweaks on the other hand were pretty much free (or more precisely shareware). But the apps I purchased were closer to $14.99 (some as high as $29.99) than $2.99, They were all of high quality and I got years and years of service from them so no regrets. I currently have 67 downloaded WP7 apps, not including games, of which 19 are $$$, or about 28% which is a pretty good ratio. Total spend has been under $37, about the cost of two good WM apps, or under $2 an app. Minus the three XBox games for $4.99 each that I wanted so I could show off XBox, have only spent $12 on 16 games, as more than half were free.

    I may not use every paid app that often but some things I like to have around. Handyscan for example, is a biggie at $4.99, but it could be used as a portable fax machine (photograph multiple documents and send as a PDF). Don’t want to have to search for an app to do this at the moment I need it. Or Password Padlock for 0.99, cause I don’t trust ad based or free password apps.. If I see something equivalent that’s free, like RAD Now Radar or Voice Recorder, will always try to save a buck or two. But I think my limit will be about 100. After that I need some knod of sub-folder system to find all this stuff.

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