updated 10:15 am EDT, Wed March 11, 2009
Win Mo Market Revenue
Microsoft on Wednesday published early details of its development tools for Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphones and also set out the revenue model for the Windows Mobile Marketplace. The company's first self-run mobile software store will almost exactly duplicate the business model used for the iPhone App Store: Microsoft will collect a flat 30 percent of the revenue from each app regardless of price or the number of copies sold. Free apps also won't incur any download costs for developers.
The company has also established similar terms for app licensing. Developers pay a yearly $99 fee that will let them publish five apps. Unlike Apple's system, however, developers will have to pay $99 for every additional app published to the Marketplace. Student developers can publish to the store for free.
Microsoft also says it will have a "rigorous" certification process that vets apps before they go online, though it promises to improve on Apple's approach by providing more frequent feedback on the approval process before and after apps are published.
Developers can already write for the store using an updated version of the Windows Mobile 6 SDK as well as the .NET framework. Registrations for app development will open during the spring, while submissions will start in late summer, or just ahead of Windows Mobile 6.5's expected September launch on shipping devices.
The policy decisions for the Marketplace point to a clear attempt to spur development for Windows Mobile, which is increasingly lagging behind the iPhone in the number of available apps. Although Microsoft touts the existence of over 20,000 apps, the number includes every app released since Windows Mobile became available. In contrast, Apple has recently passed the 26,000 mark despite offering third-party development for less than one year. Most attribute this to rejecting the approach of conventional app stores or smartphone licensing schemes, which often increase the royalty rate to near 50 percent for successful apps and which either charge per app or by the nature of an app's features.