Thank you to everyone who signed the International Windows Phone 7 App Marketplace Petition and/or spread the word! As I’m writing this more than 1000 people have already signed the petition. And that without any help from mainstream media (as far as I know). Not bad!
Thanks to WMPoweruser, wpcentral, Mobility Digest, René Schulte, Justin Angel, David Petrla and everyone else who helped us achieve this milestone. Sure this number means nothing if Microsoft doesn’t react but it should be hard to ignore by now.
The feedback has been mostly positive but there were some recurring misunderstandings I became tired dispelling in comments and on Twitter. So I decided to address these in this post one by one.
Disclaimer: I don’t pretend that everything I write below is 100% accurate but I’m trying to be as accurate as I can
There are some legal, tax, currency and similar issues
First I must admit I’m not a lawyer. And I’m not denying that there might be some issues in this area in some countries. That said my favorite example to dismiss this argument is Belgium and The Netherlands.
These are 2 neighboring European Union countries and are part of Benelux. They have the same currency (Euro) and all EU countries have aligned trade laws so once you can sell in one of the EU countries you can sell in all of them. So why is Belgium is on the list of supported countries and The Netherlands isn’t? The answer is fairly simple once you know that one of the official languages in Belgium is French and there already is a French WP7 app marketplace for a big market in France.
International trade seems to be a boogeyman for most people in USA and they seem to imagine it as something that takes years to overcome. But you know what? I work for and co-own a small company here in Lithuania. We’ve been selling our software electronically worldwide since 2003 and it took us only a few hours to set this up. Sure, we do it through a 3rd party service but Microsoft uses (used?) the parent company (Digital River) of the company we use for their own Windows Marketplace (now Microsoft Store). And guess what, there’s a European Union (English) Microsoft Store.
Anyway I’ve heard that in some countries banks charge credit card owners for international transactions and things like that. This is a valid reason to hold out roll out to these countries, but for many countries and European Union for sure, the English (International) App marketplace is literally no further than one decision and one UPDATE query away. In my humble opinion, for course.
Xbox Live is not global, so what do you want from WP7 marketplace?
Xbox Live is a great addition to Xbox experience, but it’s still an addition to the offline gaming experience. You can go into a store worldwide and buy a game you can enjoy on your Xbox. But guess what’s the only way to get apps onto your shiny WP7 device? Right.
Zune is not global, so what do you want from WP7 marketplace?
Again, you can load your own music and videos obtained elsewhere to your WP7. But guess what’s the only way to get apps onto the phone?
We understand that not everything is in Microsoft’s hands when it comes to music and video. Regional restrictions on music are still lame but it’s a totally different issue and that’s why it was explicitly excluded from the petition:
We are not talking about Music & Video where we understand that not everything is in your hands. We are talking about your own app marketplace.
Additionally Zune is available in some form in countries where WP7 app marketplace isn’t (like Norway and Sweden). This says that these marketplaces aren’t directly related.
Many countries have access to iOS App Store in iTunes but not music and video. These are 2 different stories.
Microsoft wants to localize the marketplace properly before opening it in new countries
Great. So why exactly phones without localization are sold officially in all those “other” countries? If someone bought a phone without localized UI and didn’t return it, would they mind non-localized Marketplace? I wouldn’t.
In addition proper localization is almost impossible. Here’s one comment from a Belgian who signed the petition:
I live in Lithuania and most of the content sites over here are in Lithuanian exclusively. The nearby Latvia has a larger Russian-speaking population and almost all of the sites over there have both Latvian and Russian versions. You get the picture.
It’s a global world so there’s quite a lot of people living around the world and not speaking (or at least not preferring) the language of the country they live in. There’s a need to be able to switch languages in any region and basically in all of them there should be an option to switch to English. So why not launch English marketplace right now and work on extra languages later?
That’s all I can think of right now. I still don’t see any reasonable explanations to the situation around Windows Phone 7 App Marketplace. A few critics of the petition all rehashed the same things I’ve tried to disprove above and Microsoft keeps it’s silence for now.
We’ll see what happens next.