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The Pursuit of Happiness: Microsoft’s Marketplace Strategy

Steve Ballmer has now been famously immortalized touting “Developers Developers Developers.” ‘ target=_blank>found here.  Apparently its not just hot air.  This is the perfect example of a free app.  Something that provides a moment or two of enjoyment than quickly wears out its welcome.  I bet you have a few on your phone that fits this description.  The new details on the marketplace is making it clear Microsoft’s goal is on creating an environment that all developers contributing to WP7’s success be rewarded for their efforts.  Android has the open and free market but that place is filled with free garbage apps.  The Android Market has such lax standards that you really should think twice before purchasing or using them.  DavidK wrote an article about a recent report featuring concerning personal info access here.  I hear more than any other complaint about Android apps is having to put up with Ads.  There has to be some form of monetization for developers and if you’ don’t pay up front you’ll pay up the rear soon enough!

Microsoft has recently changed their upcoming WP7 marketplace policies and the decision is quite impactful.  Developers are now allowed unlimited paid app subscriptions for $99 per year but only 5 free app subscriptions.  It is clear Microsoft does not want garbage free apps.  They are really setting the stage for developers to reap rewards from the creativity, sweat and time they sow into their apps/games.  The developers can install trials on all their paid app submissions so that they won’t use up the 5 freebies.  You can find further details here.  In a way it will make the WP7 Marketplace feel like a premium marketplace.  The kind of place that has everything well thought out and done for a purpose that results in a great product.  Kind of like an upscale mall that has features you never knew could be appreciated in a mall setting.

In the past everyone got on the market and immediately looked for the freebie.  Why is that?  Is function and fun not worthy of a couple of bucks?  I gladly shelled out the $.99 for Power SMS, $1.99 for Scramble and also $5.99 for Brain Challenge HD.  I use all these apps at least once a day so even if I only used them for a week the average cost per usage is less than $.25 per play.   I seem to remember spending quarter after quarter at the arcade as a kid and didn’t regret it at all.  Why? I had fun and the app/game served its purpose.  The apps I have installed are quality apps that provide either great functionality or immense fun.  I’d rather the rest of my space be taken up with all the music and video I can handle.  I laugh at my wife, who owns an iPhone, all the time while she attempts to strategize which garbage apps she can remove to make room for the hot new song she needs on her phone to choreograph to.

Imagine working an 80 hour work week and at the end of the day all you get is $.10 for every hour you worked.  That would not sit well at all.  Sure some developers do it simply for the enjoyment of building apps but lets not forget that the market is a place of business.

Microsoft’s policy can be seen in the quality of apps being produced.  Apps like PowerMote that controls a PowerPoint presentation in real time.  I’ve already set aside up to $10 just to buy this app because this is a functional and convenient tool to be used.  I have no need to sift through the sea of death that is page after page of free, useless and most of the time lacking apps.  Give me quality over quantity.  The race for quantity has already been ran and clearly Apple and Android are well ahead.  It would take an enormous amount of time and marketing expense to get people to buy into the whole we got more so we must be better mantra.  Apple (primarily) and Google have already won that mindshare.  That is a fact.  Microsoft is going after the mindshare of quality over quantity.  This is their only play and a good one.  I know a lot of people who’d rather buy a pricey EVO, HD2 or iPhone instead of getting a free feature phone.  Remember you get what you pay for and in Microsoft’s mind that’ll be tons of quality, fun and functional apps/games that will make enhance your life through your phone.  That is a very good thing.  I’m not telling you which way is the best but you should challenge your way of approaching app purchases and see if it really is the best way to go.  Microsoft is betting enough consumers will see the value in quality.  Soon very soon the fun will begin.  I’m always happy when i’ve made a solid choice and been rewarding with a great experience.  That is the pursuit of happiness Microsoft is hoping is not just a niche but a consistent way of life.