ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

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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