Windows Mobile Marketplace To Skim 30%, Promises App Approval 'Transparency'

Microsoft has dribbled out a few specifics about their upcoming Windows Mobile Marketplace: an industry standard 70% dev commission, a familiar $99 joining fee, and a somewhat pointed pledge of "transparency".

The 70% dev cut is simple enough and has worked well for other stores, but the $99 fee is a slight divergence from the norm. Under this subscription plan, developers can submit up to five apps a year, with an additional $99 fee for every app above that limit. That sounds a little lame, but if you're the kind of person (or outfit, rather) that markets more than five apps a year, a hundred bucks probably won't sting too much, and the fee might even serve as a nice little cr-app filter. There are a few other details, like a fee waiver for student developers, but most of this doesn't really matter much to consumers, and won't surprise developers.

But Microsoft couldn't resist getting a little political here, going out of their way to promise "transparency throughout the certification process"—a not-so-subtle dig at Apple's restrictive and sometimes mysterious vetting process. It's a nice promise, but the Windows Mobile app store is inherently different in this regard already. It may have rules, but developers can still distribute their apps elsewhere, and any user is free to install them. In other words, unlike in the iTunes App Store, a rejected app isn't necessary a dead app. Full press release is below. [Microsoft]

Microsoft Unveils Its Developer Strategy for the Next Generation of Windows® Phones

Familiar tools, large worldwide customer base and transparent policies allow mobile developers to innovate and generate new revenue opportunities with Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

REDMOND, Wash. - March 11, 2009 - Microsoft Corp. today announced new details about how developers can build and sell applications for Windows® phones through Windows Marketplace for Mobile, the recently announced application marketplace available with the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system. In its commitment to helping developers create new and exciting applications, Microsoft will provide developers with 70 percent of the revenue generated from sales of their application sales from Windows Marketplace for Mobile, transparency throughout the certification process, and guidance and support from the stage of development to the final sale to the consumer. To get the tools to begin developing for Windows® phones, go to http://developer.windowsmobile.com.

"We are empowering the thousands of existing Windows Mobile independent software vendors and prospective developers to grow their business by connecting them to the millions of global Windows® phone customers around the world," said Andy Lees, senior vice president of the Mobile Communications Business at Microsoft. "Our announcement today demonstrates Microsoft's unwavering commitment to providing developers with the latest tools and technologies to develop compelling applications, as well as the appropriate distribution channels to generate revenue."

Developers who sell applications through Windows Marketplace for Mobile will receive 70 percent of the sale of each application. In addition, they will have the ability to set the price for their applications in each market, maximizing their revenues based on targeted pricing strategies. Developers can also choose to distribute their application at no cost. Up to five application submissions to the Windows Marketplace for Mobile is included in the introductory annual registration of $99 (U.S.). Each additional submission within the annual period will have a cost of $99 (U.S.). The registration fee will be waived for student developers who want to reach Windows® phones customers, through enrollment in the DreamSpark program. Finally, developers will also be eligible for marketing and sales support from the Mobility Solutions Partner Program, allowing developers to focus on their core competency of developing innovative applications.

With Windows Marketplace for Mobile available in 29 countries, developers will be able to tap into a broad international customer base. At the same time, Microsoft will continue working with developers to ensure that their applications run optimally on Windows® phones by running a rigorous certification and testing process before applications go to market. Developers will be able to see detailed feedback during and after the certification process of their application on the Windows Marketplace for Mobile developer portal. Ultimately this enables developers to devote more time to writing innovative applications, and less time trying to navigate the approval process. Developers will have access to all details once the registration doors open in the spring, and will be able to start submitting their applications later this summer.

Developers can utilize familiar tools and technologies to build unique experiences for the Windows Mobile platform through Windows Marketplace for Mobile, including the Windows Mobile 6 SDK, .NET Compact Framework 3.5.

With more than 20,000 applications already in market, Windows Mobile is among the most popular platforms for developers. Windows Mobile 6.5, the next generation of the Windows Mobile operating system, will allow developers to build innovative mobile applications without having to learn new skills or programming languages, by leveraging familiar desktop and server development tools such as Win32, Active Template Library and Microsoft Foundation Classes (Visual C++), Visual C#, Visual Basic .NET, ASP.NET and asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX).