ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Windows Phone 7: Trial (Paid) vs. Free

1/31/2011 5:58:24 PM

It’s been about 2 weeks since I rereleased Tic-Tac-Toe 3D for WP7 as a free version. First days have seen a peak of interest from being a “new” free app, so I waited for some time to pass before making any conclusions. It seems that usage has stabilized over the past week, so let’s take a look at the stats.

The Stats

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That’s “visits” which roughly represents the number of times the game was launched during a day. The average is 147 visits per day (~116 visitors per day).

At the same time a paid version of the same game demonstrated this usage:

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That’s a whooping 3.7 “visits” per day. That’s almost 40x difference.

There are a couple of interesting points about these stats:

  1. the paid version has a free trial which is a fully functional single player game
  2. I promoted the paid version when it was released to some extent (video, featured in couple WP7 blogs, etc.) and did nothing for the free one (aside from using it as a case study app for AdDuplex)

The Economics

Despite huge difference in usage the economics of both versions could be pretty similar. The paid version sold 22 copies in 7 weeks which is about $15 after MS takes it share (where’s that Ferrari dealership phone number?) and the free version displays about 3300 ads a week which would be about 23,000 in 7 weeks. Assuming $1 CPM rate (which I guess is reasonable if I ran pubCenter instead of awesome AdDuplex) that would be $23 which is comparable to the revenue from the paid version.

But that’s not what I want to emphasize. Remember that paid version has a free trial which is a fully functional single player game (I guess the vast majority of the users use that anyway).

Trial API != Lite API

When Microsoft introduced a Trial API on WP7 it was in part targeted to be used to create Lite and Premium versions in one. What my stats above show is that the system doesn’t work in this capacity. The current trial mode is only good for making, well, trial – a mode which demonstrates application’s capabilities but is essentially unusable.

No one is looking at paid apps without intention to spend money. Even if the app has a fully usable free trial (with some premium features available to paid users) no one is going to try it. That’s a sad reality.

For my game it’s safe to assume that at least 80% of users would be satisfied with functionality available in the trial of the paid app (no 2 player mode and no high scores board). So the usage of the “paid” app should be no more than 20% less than for the free one, not 40 times.

The conclusion for the moment – for Lite/Premium combo your best bet is creating 2 apps.

We Need Lite API

Actually we don’t. I think it can work with current Trial API with these modifications on organizational level:

  • developers can specify (when submitting to Marketplace) that the app is Lite/Premium, rather than Trial/Full. All using the same Trial API
  • some procedure should be in place for testers to verify that Trial mode is actually Lite mode (no time bombs, fully usable basic functionality, etc.)
  • Lite/Premium apps are listed in Free section of the Marketplace.

Makes sense?

P.S.: on a side note you should check my Tic-Tac-Toe 3D game. It’s pretty nice and engaging. Zune links: free with ads, trial/paid without ads.

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WPF, Silverlight and WP7 at MIX11 – My Picks

1/26/2011 6:31:57 PM

I’ve submitted a proposal to present a talk at MIX11 conference in Las Vegas called “Developing for WPF, Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 at Once”. The proposal has passed the first round of filtering and now it needs your votes to get me into one of the 10 spots. With more than 200 candidates that’s going to be a tough task. But it’s doable, right? RIGHT!?

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If you like the subject of my talk you can vote for it by selecting all the cats in the CAPTCHA and pressing the “Vote for the session” button.

Obviously mine is not the only great proposal there. Here are some of my favorites I voted for:

  • First of all my virtual friend (devirtualization at MIX?), great developer, Silverlight MVP and overall nice guy René Schulte has 3 proposals: The World Is Not Enough - Silverlight Augmented Reality, Pictures Lab - How To Write A Silverlight Photo Effects Application For Windows Phone 7 and Silverlight 3D. I’m sure he can deliver and you should definitely vote for one of his proposals (if not all).
  • Then there’s The tale of two apps - Making a splash in the Windows Phone Marketplace by András Velvárt and Bálint Orosz. A story of 2 of the most popular WP7 apps made by developers from the “unsupported” Hungary who instead of whining and fighting for justice (like I do) found ways to make a splash in the Marketplace despite obstacles Microsoft put in front of them.
  • Then there’s PHP on Windows by fellow Lithuanian Juozas Kaziukėnas. I’ve seen him present an earlier version of this talk and it was great even though it feels a little out of place in my list. Juozas is a great presenter and the content is interesting for those who want to keep their eye on what’s happening in the area.
  • Then I chose Exploring a Blendable Windows Phone 7 Application by Laurent Bugnion out of 2 of his proposals. I believe Deep dive MVVM will get through without my help. Laurent is probably the most knowledgeable and influential Silverlight MVP in Europe and probably the whole world. It’s always interesting to see him speak.
  • One talk that has a chance to be overlooked but seems very interesting and important is Introduction to Maps by Colin Blair. Mapping becomes more common in all sorts of apps but quite a few developers understand the terms and concepts involved.

My other votes in no particular order:

As you can see these are only a few of the proposals and they are well worth their own conference and they need your votes.

And most importantly (shameless plug and I’m not even sorry) I need your votes. Thanks!

P.S. In case you don’t like cats think of the CAPTCHA as the one were you have to eliminate all the cats.

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Informal introduction to AdDuplex

1/11/2011 6:43:54 PM

banner_squareYesterday I’ve announced a new project called AdDuplex. In a nutshell it’s an ad exchange network for Windows Phone 7 apps. You display ads for other WP7 apps, they display ads for your app. Simple as that.

Why?

1. First of all, I’m not allowed to develop for Windows Phone 7 by Microsoft. But I’m still really captivated by the platform. So, different indirectly WP7 related ideas keep spinning in my head and this is one of them.

2. Microsoft’s pubCenter ad network is open for US residents only and targets users in the US only. Other ad networks aren’t very mature, don’t generate any substantial revenue or just don’t support WP7 directly. So developers of free apps outside US can neither generate revenue nor get any other benefits (except for fame and user gratitude) for their hard work.

3. There has been a lot of criticism of the way Microsoft treats independent developers in the WP7 Marketplace. It’s practically impossible for a non-Xbox Live game to be featured in the Marketplace at the moment and there’s no way to order apps by ranking or any other popularity criteria except download count. So developers are pretty much left to promote their apps any way they can outside of the Marketplace itself. At some point I had an idea that we can help each other promoting our apps and this is how AdDuplex concept was born.

What’s the catch?

I’ve been asked a couple of times on how I plan to finance/support this project. The idea is that you’ll get 80-90 exposures of your ad for a 100 exposures of other ads in your app. And hopefully I’ll be able to sell that 10-20% ad balance. That should pay for hosting and other expenses (including my mansion, yacht, Ferrari and other stuff).

So, if you like the idea, want to promote your app for free and don’t mind me getting insanely rich in the process, go request your invitation and lets start this thing. Early adopters will get that 90% ratio which will go down as the system matures.

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