ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Ideaot

7/29/2011 1:51:17 PM

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Photo by Adam Hally

Not so long ago I’ve read a book by James Altucher titled “How To Be The Luckiest Person Alive”. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it. One of the concepts described in that book caught my eye the most. I’m not sure if it’s original James’s idea or maybe it’s a well known concept. I’m totally ignorant in that space.

Anyway, the idea is that you have an “idea muscle” and it atrophies if you don’t properly exercise it. I didn’t remember the exact exercise described in the book and now that I’ve reread it on the blog I see that I did it “wrong”, but I don’t think details actually matter.

What I do for the past couple of weeks is sit down for 10 minutes every morning before I start working and try to generate as many ideas about anything as I can. Most of the time these are some business ideas, mobile app ideas, web site or service ideas and things like that. Some ideas are utter crap. Some I may implement one day. Some sound pretty interesting to me, but are definitely out of scope of my expertise and/or interests, so I’m pretty sure I have no practical use for them.

The thought of throwing these ideas away saddens me. So I decided to start a blog where I'll post them in some detail. So, please welcome my new idea blog I called Ideaot.

The first 2 ideas posted there are:

  1. Physical Case for Capacitive Buttons
  2. Consumer Level Tea Bag Packaging Machine

Stay tuned for more and subscribe to the RSS feed to be notified about updates.

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Popular Business Books for Developers

7/28/2011 6:25:29 PM

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I haven’t been working for a “man” since 2001. I never seriously looked back. I was making just enough money not to think about looking for a “real job”, but it always felt like it’s going nowhere. A certain someone always encouraged me to read these motivational, pseudo-business books, but titles like “Become a gazillinaire without lifting a finger while sitting on the couch” were so vomit inducing that I couldn’t even think about it.

In October 2010 I finally gave in, and, even though I’ve read my share of fiction and technical books in-between, I became kind of addicted to these popular business books (as I like to call them collectively). I don’t know if these books are in any way responsible for helping me start what I consider to be IT, but it was undoubtedly started in that period. So, I guess these books deserve some credit for sure.

  • The 4-Hour Workweek. Timothy Ferris. This was the book I chose as my first book of a kind. The title immediately appealed to me. It wasn’t some crazy title promising me millions in a month. That’s what I wanted – make enough money to chill on the beach, or work a little more and make even more money while still chilling on the beach. And put it on auto-pilot. Little did I know that the title was carefully constructed/selected using AdWords and landing sites to attract jerks like me. This book immediately challenged my moral compass, but it was really helpful and inspiring. At the very least I’ve derived my “email of happiness” concept from there and am happily using it since. Highly recommended.
  • ReWork. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. This book is from people I definitely respect and I totally like the business concept behind 37 signals. That said I don’t remember a thing from this book :) All I remember that I enjoyed reading it and that it was really really short. So maybe I should just ReRead it.
  • Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup. David Cohen and Brad Feld. This one is from the founders of TechStars startup accelerator program and includes lots of chapters from new and seasoned entrepreneurs. If launching something big and ambitious is your thing, then this is a definite must read. Highly recommended.
  • Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup. Rob Walling. This one is quite the opposite of “Do More Faster”. It preaches freedom and quality of life over striking it really big. Lots of useful advice inside. If you want to go big – read “Do More Faster”. If you want to create small profitable businesses and enjoy life – read this one. Want to get confused? Read both. Highly recommended.
  • How To Be The Luckiest Person Alive! James Altucher. I’ve discovered James’s blog recently and this book through it. That not as much a business book as a fun read with lots of life and business hacking advice in it. I’m a fan. Highly recommended.
  • Startups Open Source. Jared Tame. This one came recommended by a friend but I found it pretty boring. There are quite a lot of interesting bits in it. Author interviews lots of startup founders. But a couple of things annoyed me a lot. First of all the set of interview questions is 90% identical for all the founders. Reading the same questions over and over is pretty boring. The fact that most of the answers are quite identical too, didn’t help much. The other issue is that vast majority of the startups interviewed in this book (as Jared’s own) went through Y Combinator and unsurprisingly have very similar stories to tell. And unlike “Do More Faster” book that kind of made me want to apply to TechStars, this one left me with pretty negative, yet inexplicable, aftertaste for Y Combinator. Another thing – the magnitude of the founders/startups fluctuates dramatically – from people who started Reddit or Foursquare to someone who launched some random websites, slapped AdSense on them and made enough money to do something that’s is not even a business yet (nothing personal). I guess it’s fine if you want to just read interviews with people you are interested in selectively. But reading it cover to cover was something I shouldn’t have done.

That’s it for now. I’m off to read Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist. I guess this is going to be the least “popular” read of the bunch, requiring a substantial amount of my brain power. But I’m pretty sure it’s going to be worth it.

Feel free to recommend books in the comments below.

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The State of Worldwide WP7 Publishing after MIX11

4/26/2011 10:11:58 AM

I’m back from MIX11 and a short vacation after that. It is now beside the point to write anything about general topics from MIX, but as I took on a duty of advocating expansion of Windows Phone marketplace accessibility, I’d like to address what was announced and changed after MIX11.

In this post I’ll talk about developer (publishing) accessibility.

8 (9?) new countries in more than a year. Really!?

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I was still operating in moderate optimism mode (aka stupidity) before MIX. Hoping a lot of new developer countries will be announced (including Lithuania). I’ve got a couple hints that this won’t be the case and it wasn’t.

In more than a year Microsoft has managed to add support for 8 (or is it 9? (see below)) new developer countries. I’m pretty sure a single full time employee working on that could do more in a year, but oh, well. It’s clear now that this sort of expansion is not a priority for Microsoft or they are just waiting for Nokia to bring that part to the table.

Fortunately they at least did something to mitigate the issue.

Global Publishing Partners

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Earlier this year MS announced Yalla Apps as their first official global publishing partner (aka proxy) for Middle East and Africa. I’ve seen different reactions to this – from awe to someone calling it a spit in the face of developers.

I consider it to be what it actually is – a workaround. Something that gets the job done in civilized, but not very elegant manner.

Now they’ve announced additional partners to cover a total of 102 countries. Each has some “focus” countries but actually accepts developers from all over the world (except for officially supported countries).

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The funny part is that no one can tell what that “focus” really means. I’ve got some vague answers that it has something to do with partner using locally preferred payment methods, operating in closer time zone (for better support), etc. But Yalla Apps (which doesn’t “focus” on Lithuania) uses PayPal for payments (which is fine with me) and is located 1 timezone away from me, when our suggested partner (APPA Market) is 2 timezones away. So that “focus” aspect doesn’t seem all that important.

What really pissed me off during the session was this:

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Paid updates are bad for EVERYONE

When APPA Market was announced I immediately went to their web site and saw a price table which had (and still has) this bullet point:

  • Application update £15

Yalla Apps had a similar (yet slightly cheaper) structure. I expressed my concerns to Todd Brix after the session and tweeted this

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and to my surprise when I checked Yalla Apps prices yesterday they were like this:

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(1 credit <= $1). Now 1 credit is not totally free but is negligibly cheap. Kudos to Yalla Apps for listening to the community. APPA Market is still where it was on April 14th.

I understand that these publishing partners are for-profit organizations and aren’t supposed to do charity work or something like that, but being an official partner already gives them way more exposure and business than they would get otherwise. On the other hand they let Microsoft be lazy in this area, so MS could chip in a little or make the process for partners as easy as possible (good APIs to publish updates automatically, etc.).

Paid updates are bad for …

  • Microsoft and Windows Phone ecosystem in general. Developers won’t publish minor updates or even critical updates for non-profit (or no profit) apps if it costs them 15 pounds for each typo. This would result in lower quality apps in the marketplace and is very bad for the ecosystem.
  • Global Publishing Partners. On paper it looks like partners would be making money with paid updates but in reality I think it would result in less developers joining them based on such fee structure and of those who joined fewer will be actually posting the updates. Speaking for myself I decided not to join any of them when I saw that fee structure.
  • Developers. Well, this is obvious. And it even more depressing when you see 1st class “citizens” not only getting direct service but paying incomparably less for it.

Conclusion

Based on what I saw I was planning to turn my back on actual WP7 development for another cycle and further concentrate on my related projects (AdDuplex and amCharts). But now, with updated Yalla Apps pricing, I’m seriously considering joining them. I’ll wait till APPA Market launches on May 1st and if their pricing doesn’t change I’ll go with Yalla even though they are not my “focus” partner.

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

2/4/2011 1:29:25 PM

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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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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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Follow Up on International WP7 Marketplace Petition

12/27/2010 7:15:17 PM

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:

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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?

Conclusion

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.

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International Windows Phone 7 App Marketplace Petition

12/22/2010 1:28:00 PM

Let me begin by saying that I’m not a fan of petitions, “calling your representative” and things like that. Yet I can’t understand the current state of Windows Phone 7 experience around the World. The more or less full experience (minus differences in access to Music & Video) is available in 17 countries. At the same time phones are sold in way more than those 17 countries.

Last time I raised this issue the phones weren’t officially available over here in Lithuania. Now I can go into official stores of 2 cell operators in Lithuania and walk out with one of the 2 available HTC models.

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At the same time when I launch Zune Software on my Windows 7 with current location set to Lithuania here’s what I see:

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Notice that the Marketplace tab is missing. It takes switching location to United States (or other supported region)

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to see that tab

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Unfortunately even after this we can only access the free apps and trials because it wouldn’t accept our credit cards.

Some might say we are lucky that we can see free apps in the marketplace on our phones (I’m still not sure if this is the case without any tricks but it could be). People in other countries can’t do even that:

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The worst part of all of this is that there’s no official information on the problems Microsoft is facing with allowing access to the marketplace in countries other than those 17 lucky ones. And unfortunately for Microsoft not many people can come up with a reasonable guess as to what these problems might be.

I’ve heard (and thought of) only 2 reasons:

Guess #1. Localization. Microsoft wants to localize the marketplace into local languages before launching it in new markets.

Here’s why this doesn’t make much sense: There’s no Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, etc. UI in the Windows Phone 7 OS itself, yet the phones are available in Lithuania, Norway, Poland, etc. So absence of localization doesn’t stop them from selling the phones, but stops from providing access to the marketplace? Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Guess #2. Taxes. Apparently Microsoft needs to deal with tax differences and similar stuff.

I’m no economist, but I’m pretty sure that once you’ve dealt with taxes in one European Union country you can cover all of the EU from there without any substantial overhead. We have 8 EU countries covered by the marketplace (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom). Where are the other 19? And I’m not talking about new members. Where’s Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden, etc.? Looking at the list it seems obvious that selection was made by language rather than anything else. But we’ve covered that above.

Any other guesses? And why do we have to guess? Why is it difficult for Microsoft to come up with an explanation and a roadmap? What’s the point in silence in this case?

Who wins here? Consumers can’t access the marketplace – bad. Developers and Microsoft can’t sell apps to these consumers – bad. And the worst part that there are no explainable obstacles responsible for that. I’m not saying there aren’t any for sure, I’m just asking to let us know if there are.

A week ago I’ve shown my LG Optimus 7 to a non-technical friend. He asked me if I can recommend him buying a WP7 phone. And honestly, being a Windows Phone fan myself, I couldn’t. I don’t want my friend to be mad at me for having to go through hoops just to get some apps on his smartphone. I will recommend the phone once this is resolved, I will highlight it’s great novel UI and try to justify some deficiencies in order to convince my peers, but I can’t do that right now.

So when I saw another desperate cry of frustration with this situation on Twitter, I’ve snapped and decided to create a petition. Here it is:

International Windows Phone 7 App Marketplace Petition

If you agree with what’s written there and in this blog post, please, take a few seconds to sign the petition and spread the word. Maybe this way Microsoft will hear us and shine some light on the situation or better yet just flip the switch.

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Legal Sideloading Scenario for Windows Phone 7

12/8/2010 10:05:31 AM

Disclaimer: By no means I pretend to have all the knowledge needed to make this work and all the challenges Microsoft is facing in this area. This is just my stream of consciousness on the subject.

What’s the biggest worry for Microsoft on the subject off people sideloading apps? The answer to this question is hard to guess wrong. They don’t want alternative marketplaces to appear and compete with the official marketplace undercutting developer earnings, trust, etc. and in turn Microsoft’s earnings and market share.

I’d leave piracy alone since it’s not something you can fight without punishing legitimate users along the way. The phones will be hacked anyway and pirates will do their thing. I don’t have any doubts about it.

On the other hand there are lots of people who would love to be able to load apps to the phone for pretty legitimate reasons like:

  • hobbyist making apps for themselves and friends
  • people who can’t become official WP7 developers (there are more than 30 countries in the world, you know)
  • companies making apps for internal use

I don’t think any of the above mentioned usages constitutes any danger to the official marketplace. So, basically, the goal is to make 3rd party marketplace apps either impossible or, more likely, too complicated for normal people to use.

So, what if people could load XAPs via Zune and these XAPs would be signed on the fly and only signed apps could run on the phone? This way it’s pretty easy for regular folks to sideload their apps, impossible for on-the-phone 3rd party marketplaces to exist and too complicated for web/PC 3rd party marketplaces to gain any mainstream traction.

It sounds too simple for me to be true, so I’m probably missing something. What do I miss?

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Developing Controls for Windows Phone 7 as a Business

11/22/2010 10:48:07 AM

Yesterday I couldn’t sleep and was thinking about feasibility of developing Windows Phone 7 (Silverlight) controls as a business. Since I’m already in the the WPF/Silverlight control business and we already have an open-source charting product for WP7 this is a really interesting and sensitive topic for me.

Here are some of my thoughts. Some are facts, some are pure speculation and/or brain dump.

As you probably know, at this stage Windows Phone 7 is a consumer platform and the only way to get and distribute apps is through Windows Phone Marketplace. This makes it pretty easy to see the current state of the whole market/ecosystem.

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As of this writing there are almost 2500 apps in the marketplace. Almost 600 are games meaning about 24% of the total number. Obviously the total number of apps is going to grow over coming months and years but I guess we can assume that the proportion of games will stay at approximately the same level. Let’s fix it at a nice number of 25%. Out of the rest of the apps a really large chunk are various “flashlight”, “fart” and other simple apps. These are not a target market for custom controls either. I’d say the number of apps that would benefit from advanced controls is no more than 10% of non-games (pure speculation based on non-scientific observation).

imageSo let’s say apps using 3rd party controls constitute 7% of all apps (I’d say that’s in optimistic range). Also, let’s say that the total number of apps grows to about 50,000 over the next 1-2 years. That’s roughly 3500 apps.

Now I’m not sure where to get the actual average number of apps per publisher but my guess is that what says “1325 Top publishers” in Bing’s Visual Search for Windows Phone 7 Apps is actually a total number at this point in time.

So basically the average is close to 2 apps per publisher. Meaning that with 50,000 apps in the marketplace we’ll have ~1750 publishers interested in 3rd party controls.

Now I believe most of the publishers are one man shops or really small companies. I guess the average number of developers per publisher is not more than 2. So let’s say these publishers are going to spend $1000 per developer on 3rd party controls over the next 2 years (again optimistic number, imho). That makes the market worth no more than 1750 x 2 x $1000 = $3,500,000 over all 3rd party control publishers. And that’s on the optimistic side in my opinion.

Conclusion

This post is pure speculation and I would like to hear your thoughts either based on more facts or deeper knowledge or just higher intelligence, but as I see it now the market is really small.

That said I still see some reasons to participate:

  1. These are still Silverlight controls and should cost less to adopt from desktop Silverlight than writing from scratch. That said WP7 Silverlight is going to be 2 versions behind pretty soon and that imposes serious challenges balancing between doing things the better (new) way and making them work on the phone.
  2. Sooner or later Microsoft is going to open the platform for enterprise development and distribution and that is going to be a much bigger market for control developers. The question is when is this going to happen? But hopefully this happens sooner than later and you’d want to be in the game when it does.

Again, I’m sorry for posting such a speculative rant, but if governments can expect 3% higher budget incomes by upping taxes by 3% why can’t I speculate using the same “Excel logic”?

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When to show your work to the client?

7/14/2008 3:24:04 PM

When is the best time to show the work you are doing to your customer? In an ideal world with ideal clients the answer would be simple - as early as possible. Clients could provide valuable feedback before you went to far in the wrong direction.

Unfortunately in real life I find this approach to be counterproductive. Most (if not all) of the times as soon as I show early prototype to the client a process we internally call "moving pixels" begins. Color and/or size of some text on some unimportant page is wrong, that empty shopping cart text is not clear enough, these 2 buttons should be reordered, etc. Right after the first demo actual feature development stops and polishing of cosmetic stuff begins.

On the other hand in cases when you hold off demonstration as long as possible clients become impatient, they could suffer a heart attack when they finally see something and it's not 100% what they've expected, then you could suffer a heart attack when you hear that your product sucks, you suck and everyone you know and care about suck.

Does anyone have a universal recipe on how to balance this process? I've settled on dealing with "pixel moving" but I don't like it to the point I want to give up all contract work altogether.

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