ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Windows Phone App Publishing through Yalla Apps

5/29/2011 11:36:05 AM

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At MIX11 Microsoft announced a list of so called “Global Publishing Partners”. I’ve blogged about that about a month ago.

The one partner that is “focusing” on Central and Eastern Europe is called APPA Market. But since their pricing is way higher than that of Yalla Apps and there’s no real meaning (at least that is of value to me) behind that “focus” thing, I decided to go with Yalla. After all that’s my money and there’s no evidence that APPA Market would provide me with better service than Yalla Apps.

Layman’s business analysis off-topic.

I understand that all these companies want to make money with this program. I’ve also confirmed from numerous credible sources that Microsoft doesn’t provide them with any APIs to automate the process. So submitting your app to the marketplace and providing you with stats, etc. is basically a manual labor for them. And with that knowledge I totally understand the desire to charge for each action that requires an actual person to do some work for you.

That said let’s take a look at current fee structure for APPA Market:

  • Registration - £65 (credited to your account balance)
  • Application submission - £30
  • Application update - £6

Now based on the stats at WP7applist there’s an average of about 3 published apps per developer. I believe this number is highly skewed up by quite a few developers with tens or even hundreds of apps in the marketplace. So the real average developer would have 1-2 apps in the marketplace.

With the above fee structure, if developer has only one app, he will still have £35 on the balance after the app is submitted. This means that he’ll be able to submit 5 updates without paying anything above the initial registration payment and won’t bring any additional revenue to appamundi. But he got turned off by the pricing structure in the first place and never joined. So they didn’t even get the initial £65.

A case could be made that this sort of customer is not very desired in the first place. To that I would say (even if you discard the “every customer matters” mantra) that developers with extremely serious plans for app development wouldn’t go through a proxy anyway and would find a way to submit apps directly. Establishing a business in one of the supported countries is not rocket science after all.

My point is that these “hobbyist” developers are the core target audience for the GPP and they won’t pay much above the initial payment anyway. So why not try and attract more of them by having a reasonably attractive fee structure?

This is what Yalla Apps eventually realized and why I went with them.

Back to Yalla Apps

So the registration with Yalla Apps is straightforward and looks very much alike the App Hub process (if not better). You pay your initial $99 registration fee via PayPal and your account is active immediately. Choose your “Nickname” wisely during the registration cause this is what will be used in marketplace description for your app as developer’s name and it can’t be changed later. Keep in mind that Yalla Apps (and not you) will be listed as the publisher of your app.

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I didn’t try to unlock my phone through them since it’s already unlocked. So no feedback on the process. The important part is that it can be done and is performed via Remote Desktop.

The app submission process is straightforward and worked perfectly. Remember to have all of your deliverables ready (xap, tiles, screenshots, descriptions, etc.). You just go through a wizard-like process and you are done.

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Having seen numerous cases when developers selected apps to be published automatically just to find a critical bug just a few hours later, I didn’t choose the auto-publishing option. So it’s hard to tell how long it would’ve taken to publish the app that way.

It took 3-4 days for my app to pass the certification according to the status on Yalla Apps site. As I mentioned there’s no API for them so I don’t know how long has passed until the app was actually submitted to Microsoft and from it actually passing certification to the status on the site being updated.

Once it was ready for publication I initiated the process and it was live in the marketplace the next day. The funny thing is that the status in Yalla Apps dashboard changed to “published” only 4-5 days after it was actually available for download. Again – manual process.

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There’s a stats portion in the dashboard but the stats didn’t show up there until now (~2 weeks). But I’ve received a weekly stats update via email with Excel file and download graph attached. And since the official stats lag 3(?) days behind anyway, this is enough for me to get the big picture.

My app is free so I don’t know how payments would work. They support payouts through PayPal or Moneybookers. Both options are totally useable for us here in Lithuania. Check the services to find out if they can be used to withdraw money to your country.

Conclusion

If you are building a serious business around Windows Phone app development, I’d say you owe it to your business to find a way to publish apps directly. For the rest of us doing app development on the side or as a hobby these Global Publishing Partners is a working and usable solution for the time being.

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