ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

EcoContest

2/28/2011 12:32:52 PM

eco_badge_130There’s a Silverlight ECO Contest in progress with a theme of forest management and a grand prize of a trip to MIX11.

I’ve decided that it’s targeted mostly at designers and copy-writers at first and decided not to even try. Then I had an idea and decided to give it a try. When I was like 2/3 way through the implementation I decided again that I’m not a designer and quit. The files were left unattended on my disk for a couple of weeks.

Today I thought that there’s no reason for me not to submit what I’ve done. I’m not embarrassed by the idea, I still like it a lot, and I’m not a designer to be embarrassed by my design skills (or lack of them).

So, I took 1/3 of what I’ve done, packaged it and submitted to the contest.

You can check it out here, VOTE for it by clicking 5 leafs at the bottom and send me to MIX11.

Thanks!

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Don’t “monetize” your WP7 apps on Day 1

2/4/2011 1:29:25 PM

cents

Disclaimer: I’m the creator of AdDuplex. That said the thinking outlined in this post is what led to creation of AdDuplex and not the other way around.

From Zero to Hero

Obviously money is not the main and/or only reason most of us are in business of creating of Windows Phone 7 apps. That said getting paid for the time we spent on creating that nice app is what most of us wouldn’t mind at all. But here’s a news flash. A sad one, I must add. Not even the top independent WP7 publishers have bought themselves nice Lamborghinis with WP7 money.

Most of the developers of top WP7 apps are doing OK for a side gig, but not more than that. And most of them were there at launch and gained their momentum from being one of the first apps in their respective category.

Back in December, 2010 Jeff Webber has posted some sales numbers for Krashlander – one of the top paid (if not THE top) indy games on WP7. The numbers are obviously a little outdated, but unless you are sitting on something you consider deserving to be a supermegahit, you should look at these numbers as top limit for the nearest future.

Sigurd Snørteland has posted download and sales data for his 4 apps more recently in addition to previously posted data. His Tetris7 game is #12 free app at the time of this writing. Meaning it’s close to the maximum possible downloads for the app at the moment. His cumulative download stats show that Tetris7 had an install base of not more than 170,000 on January 8, 2011.

tetris7_marketplace_jan_2010_all

Considering that each of these installs shows 1 ad per day on average (which is wishful thinking, imo) and he gets $1 per 1000 impressions this results in about $170 per day or about $5000 per month. Not that bad until you consider that this number is based on wishful thinking and it’s one of the top apps. Plus it’s Tetris and I’m still not sure how legal the game is anyway.

And I’ve posted my more than modest numbers for Tic-Tac-Toe 3D. Consider that free version is #606 free app in Marketplace (#726 overall) right now.

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Which is still in top 10% of the apps in the marketplace.

You can see the picture, so make your own conclusions.

Go Free, Ad-less or AdDuplex

During gold rush periods people tend to forget general business rules. If you are in it for a long run your goal at launch should be building reputation, buzz and as a result popularity for your app, not turning a profit.

So, unless your app is a novelty app or related to some specific event in time, I would strongly argue that your best bet is going free right now. Remember that you can switch from free to paid later, but not the other way around.

It’s probably not wise to run paid ads at the beginning either, considering that the returns won’t be sizeable at first and overall situation in advertising space on WP7. By far the most income generating ad network on WP7 is Microsoft’s own pubCenter but it’s limited to USA (both developers and users) and even US people experienced some issues getting signed up. Other networks seem to be working on pay-per-click (not per-impression) basis and don’t generate any substantial revenue according to reports from developers using them.

In the R.I.P. GooNews blog post in addition to describing issues with pubCenter Shawn Wildermuth writes:

I went with AdMob to serve ads.  The experience there isn't great as their pay model is per-click not CPM (so I haven't received any revenue from GooNews' ads) but at least they were serving ads across the world, not just in the USA.

So, basically there aren’t many options for generating reasonable revenue from the free app at the moment anyway. And, as I stated above, I would argue that this is not what you should be thinking about at this point in marketplace evolution.

So I’d say either go ad-less or use the ad space to promote your own apps, products or services. It is wise to be prepared for the moment when your app gets popular enough and the number of phones in the market increases to the point when it makes sense to try and make money from the advertisements. When that time comes you might find yourself in a situation when there’s no screen real estate you can dedicate to ads. So think ahead (but don’t overthink) of a place you can incorporate the ads if you decide to go ad-supported.

Another option is to use the advertising space to get free promotion for your app by helping other developers promote their. I’ve created AdDuplex with that particular idea in mind and that what it does. Once you are ready to make money from your app you can intermix AdDuplex ads with ads from commercial network of phase it out altogether. But for the time being popularity of your app is what you should be concerned with the most. This is how I see it.

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Windows Phone 7 Marketplace – Excel Economy

2/1/2011 3:36:08 PM

Yesterday I’ve posted about Trial vs. Free Windows Phone 7 app usage. Since I’ve already started analyzing statistics, I decided to look at it from other angle.

One aspect of my “WP7 activism” in recent months has been a “fight” for worldwide expansion of Windows Phone 7 marketplace (they are not awarding WP7 MVP awards for that ;). About 1400 people have signed a petition asking for action or at least information on the subject (have you?), but Microsoft keeps it’s silence. So I decided to look at my app usage data on a country basis.

Note: the data is taken from Google Analytics based on IP addresses. So it’s not affected by people from around the world using US or UK LiveIDs.

The Sad Reality of Excel Economy

I’ve taken the data for Tic-Tac-Toe 3D Free game (available for only 2 weeks) and grouped usage statistics by countries based on whether the country has WP7 Marketplace support or not. The app was used about 3,500 times from 68 countries. Here are the results:

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As you can see unsupported countries make up only 13% of free app usage. This means that developers and Microsoft are getting only about 13% less revenue by supporting only 17 countries (actually 16 since, as far as I know, you can’t buy apps in India) instead of the whole world. So on paper (or in Excel) worldwide expansion of marketplace services probably looks like something not worth the effort.

This is what we call “Excel Economy” at work. A few years ago our local government in the face of financial crisis decided to increase taxes in order to increase budget income. It looked like they’ve just changed tax rate in an Excel spreadsheet with data for last year and looked how the number in the “Total” column increased. Unfortunately this is not how things work in real life.

Same goes for this app usage data. Who knows why this number is so low? Do these all “other” countries really make up only 13% of potential buyers? Or maybe they don’t use apps at all because their Zune desktop client doesn’t show “Marketplace” tab at all? Or maybe they didn’t buy WP7 device in the first place because they were told that they won’t have access to the Marketplace?

Here’s another slice of the “Excel Economy”

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Looks familiar? USA, Germany, UK, France and Italy make up 85% of the usage while 11 other supported countries only 15%. Why support them?

Anyway, I still don’t understand what’s the problem of supporting more countries is. So don’t 1400 signatories of the petition. But Microsoft likes keeping us in the dark. The same way they let users of Yahoo! Mail loose money on 3G traffic for a month while they solve their corporate problems instead of providing a quick workaround to mitigate the issue.

But I guess some things can’t be explained by logic. Especially when dealing with corporate monsters. It’s time to learn that.

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