If you think that Microsoft is clueless about the deficit they face on the app front think again. ZDNET’s Mary Jo Foley has provided some key insight into Microsoft’s plans to combat the “half a million” app bravado boasted about from Apple. There approach appears to be three pronged. Bridge Gaps in Top Apps, Change the App Conversation & Promote Top Apps & Exclusives Consistently.
Bridge Gaps in Top Apps
Remember when rumors broke about Microsoft planning on supporting devs who bet on Windows Phone from the start? Well it looks like its about to get real heated up in the marketplace. Microsoft isn’t about to put up a walled garden anytime soon but branded apps like Pandora and Bump might find a rude awakening should they try their luck on the Windows Phone marketplace down the line. Microsoft is preparing to spend upwards of $10 million to market and promote competing apps of those devs who don’t think Windows Phone is worth their time. Considering we already know Microsoft has been willing to cover the cost of development for the ports of popular app and game titles we can’t really blame them for saying enough is enough. Time to start supporting apps like iHeartRadio & Words By Post who have actually paid attention to the platform and produced very good apps. Square is another one of those offenders who have stated to me recently that they have no current plans to support Windows Phone or Windows 8.
Change The App Conversation
Instead of talking about a bazillion apps Microsoft wants to change the conversation from quantity to quality. If you are an early adopter, lets face it all of us are, then you have a personal story of an app which was terribly flawed but promising that has matured into a best-in-class app. Cocktail Flow, 4th & Mayor, iHeartRadio, Mehdoh all come to mind. I’m sure you have some of your own.
Promote Top Apps & Exclusives Consistently
Microsoft acknowledges that they have missed several opportunities to launch exclusives. In particular, Microsoft having the Xbox experience to build on fully understands the multiplying effect exclusives can have when paired with hardware releases. They want to tie consistent exclusive apps to hardware releases that multiples the buzz effect. The plan is to use great offers to drive awareness not only to the app/game but to Windows Phone hardware. This exclusive approach is the one I most looked forward to when the inclusion of Xbox Live was brought to Windows Phone. Its part of the reason why I will be purchasing a Nokia Lumia 900 when it launches on April 8th. Exclusives matter!
With all that being said Microsoft has to have been humble enough to understand Windows Phone just doesn’t carry the same cache as Apple’s iPhone. It doesn’t forge briskly into the next frontier of mobile tech like high end Androids tend to. The partnership with Nokia has brought about a very welcome, unexpected, change. The focus to drive a consistent, superb experience at a lower cost than their competitors. While the now, 6 month old, iPhone 4S is priced at $199 for a 16 GB model the Nokia Lumia 900 is garnering “hero” status with AT&T and is set to launch with true LTE at an amazing $99 price tag. It makes me wonder what the impact would be if Nokia released the Lumia 800 alongside the Lumia 900 to go directly at the iPhone 4. with a pricing of $49 or even free on contract. Combine a lower entry point and an effort to get app and game pricing more in line with iTunes app store pricing and you have the makings of something significant. Throwing in a $25 app card for anyone who purchases the Lumia 900 in the first 30 days wouldn’t hurt a bit either.
Source: Mary Jo Foley’s All About Microsoft Blog