updated 05:30 pm EDT, Thu August 20, 2009
MS Avoiding 99 Cent Apps
Microsoft at its first WinMoDevCamp in Seattle made clear it wants a different philosophy towards mobile app pricing than Apple. The Windows Mobile developer's Loke Uei urged those third parties writing apps for the soon-to-launch Windows Marketplace for Mobile to charge significantly more than 99 cents per download when possible and noted that Microsoft would look at revenue, not popularity, to gauge the winner of a developer contest. Letting prices slip to the 99-cent mark devalues apps that are "worth more than that," Uei said, adding a belief that a developer could sell half as many apps but, at $10 per copy, make much more money.
"It's up to you play your pricing, but we would definitely want to promote that you make more money selling applications than selling your application in a dollar store," he elaborated at the camp. "Your app can be worth $5.99 or $9.99, whatever the amount is, and you should be able to make more money with it"
The statements are a direct criticism of Apple's business model for iPhone apps, which doesn't enforce or otherwise encourage higher app prices and has consequently seen many narrow-purpose or quickly developed apps either sell at that price initially or else drop to it as part of promos or permanent price reductions. Such prices often lead to rapid sales but have been criticized by Twitterrific developer Craig Hockenberry and others as discouraging long-term development or more advanced projects. For its part, Apple has always characterized the App Store as being primarily an incentive for iPhone and iPod sales and hasn't concerned itself with suggesting prices.
Microsoft hasn't formally blocked app prices as low as 99 cents and has also been willing to promote free apps; in the developer contest, only these will be judged based on download count.
The encouragement positions Windows Marketplace between relatively flexible mobile software store operators like Apple or Google and the relatively restricted BlackBerry App World. RIM permits free apps but forces developers to charge at least $2.99 for any paid app. The cost is meant to encourage quality but has also led to some developers shying away from App World as they would be asked to charge more for the same product. [Via TechFlash]