For 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…