Forced NODO Update

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If you don’t have NODO this hack worked for me:

1. Start Zune
2. Turn off the Data connection and Wifi on the Phone
3. Connect the Phone with the PC (USB)
4. Start the update search in Zune
5. About 3 seconds later, disconnect your PC from the internet (Turn WLAN off).
6. Zune finds NoDo-Update. Press OK.
7. Connect to the internet again and install the update!

Thanks to www.wpcentral.com

Marketing your Apps – Advertising SDKs (2)

After following the Ads appearing as a result o implementing the SMAATO Advertising SDK (see my previous Blog post) I noticed that there were many times when an advertisement was not available (this behaviour throws up an error which can be trapped and monitored)  Apparently this is a fairly common occurrence which obviously results in loss of revenue. I looked at what might be done to mitigate this and came across another SDK from ‘Aldar IT’ that allows more than one ad provider.  Replacing the SDK was a surprisingly painless operation, with the most work being in registering for the additional providers.

The implementation process is similar to that used in the previous SMAATO control but with the option to easily add additional providers. 

The providers currently supported are:

  • Admob (Google Beta)
  • Smaato
  • ZestADZ
  • MobFox

Implementing the control is straightforward, firstly referencing the provided DLL and embedding the required namespaces at the top of the page:

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Then adding the control itself, embedding the keys obtained while registering with each provider:

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imageYou can also give each provider a priority should you wish to favour one over the other (it might be that you have been able to negotiate a better rate with one of the providers).  Should the first provider not be able to supply an Add , the second provider will be called and so on.  There is also an option to add your own provider (EG to advertise your other apps?) although I have not done so in this instance.

There is an additional DLL that provides advertisers with location information – this can result in increased revenues but has the downside of having to use the location elements of the Phone SDK with their associated User Notification and interaction requirements.  I chose not to do this at this stage.

I have been questioned as to why this technical article falls under the ‘marketing my apps’ banner.  The simple answer is that it has been categorically proven that a free App will be downloaded many more times  than it’s trial / paid equivalent.  Using advertising enables you to offer your app for free, effectively increases revenue and download numbers (as well as increasing marketing of your other apps should you have followed the advice given here)

NB You can see an example of this control working in version 1.2 of the following free App:

The Royal Wedding

The control is available from here

Marketplace Tips – Avoid negative feedback!

I’ve seen this happen a number of times, both to my own apps and to others and there is nothing quite so frustrating – you spend months developing and testing your apps and finally have a version 1.0 ready for release – you pass ingestion and await the rewards with anticipation!  Next thing you check out your App in the Zune marketplace and .. horror of horrors .. someone has given you a low rating and negative comment!  What’s worse is that you know that their comment has its roots in something unfounded (I once had this happen on a large App where the user complained they couldn’t download over 3G – this is actually Microsoft policy in order to save on potential ISP charges, but as far as the user was concerned it was an issue with my own app and they made it clear that they were not happy!  This comment was from a US user and I watched sales rise in all other markets but this one!)

So how can you stop this kind of thing happening?  The short answer is that you can’t, but what you can do is mitigate this by offering users an easy way to feed back directly to you in the first place (rather than to your entire potential customer base!).

I now have a templated page which I use on my recent content oriented (read easy to develop) apps which offers a couple of options from within the phone App itself (and importantly, they are not hidden behind a secondary menu):

image

Behind these two buttons the code is quite simple:

private void Review_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
    MarketplaceReviewTask mRTask = new MarketplaceReviewTask();
    mrTask.Show();
}


private void btnfeedback_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
    EmailComposeTask ecTask = new EmailComposeTask();
    ecTask .To = “IanWalker@WebServicesUK.com";
    ecTask .Subject = "Feedback on My App Name";
    ecTask .Show();
}

The hope is that the user will choose the first option to provide any negative feedback.  (Of course if they provide positive feedback you can always invite them to review your App!)

NB You can see this in action on the following Apps:

Marketing Your Apps – Special Promotions.

As some of you will know I am putting together a submission for Mike Ormond’s forthcoming free  Kindle book  on Windows Phone development and have picked up a chapter to be entitled ‘Marketing Your Apps’.  I have to say that as an independent software developer , marketing is something that doesn’t come naturally to me and I am putting together this series of blog posts with two main themes.  The first is just to share my own experiences in marketing the dozen or so Apps I have on the marketplace.  The second is to ask for your own feedback and experiences  to each of these blog posts in order to improve this chapter of the book when I come to putting it together ‘for real’.


 

When I heard that we had reached 10,000 apps on the marketplace (in what I believe is the shortest amount of time for any mobile device in history) it occurred to me that I might mark this event in some small way myself.  And so I decided to drop the price of the first App that I developed for the platform down to 99c.  I did this earlier today and sent off a number of press releases announcing the fact (of course nowadays it is perhaps just important that any special promotion such as this is ‘tweeted’ (and perhaps more importantly in the case of us small independent developers, “re-tweeted”) across Twitter and Facebook in order to achieve some worthwhile exposure.

A price reduction is the easiest form of offer to facilitate when it comes to apps as it can be achieved in a matter of minutes within the marketplace web site.  Be aware of two things:

  1. A price reduction can take a number of hours to filter through.
  2. Do not be tempted to offer your item for free for the promotional period as you cannot subsequently raise the price! (this is a limitation of the marketplace).

You might consider tying in your special offer to something else:

  1. Events (EG My own ‘Ambient Soundscape’ with the MWC this year – see below)
  2. Products (Pens, T-Shirts – you name it).

T-Shirt

You sometimes need to balance your enthusiasm with your integrity in the hope of striking the imagecorrect balance.  As an example, I am currently promoting ‘Shove Halfpenny’, and deliberately targeted Mike Ormond and  Brandon Watson (both have many more followers than I) as potential ‘re-tweeters’ – of course they are under no obligation, but I figure there is no harm in asking! (I’m also hoping that you  will re tweet the link below for me!)

This is an ‘on-going’ blog post, and If you are able to draw my attention to any other WP7 App related ‘special offers’, particularly from independent software developers, please contact me (rd3d2@hotmail.co.uk) or make a note of them in a comments following this post.

Thanks.

 


UDATE: I managed to get a trade ticket to the ‘Gadget Show Live’ in Birmingham and decided to spend some of the time promoting my latest App ‘Gadget Watch’.  I have blogged about this elsewhere but took the opportunity to set up a competition (OK a little bizarre) to give away the promo ‘Duke Nukem’ early entry pass that I was given (I’m not a big gamer).  Take a look at what I put together here


UDATE: repeated the promotional offer on “Shove” when the marketplace hit 20k Apps and was able to get the promotion featured on the well respected ‘Windows Phone Geek’ site simply by going through their standard publication process:

http://windowsphonegeek.com/apphub/news/celebrating-20k-apps-in-the-marketplace

NB At the time of publishing the app is also featured in their ‘Wall of Apps’:

http://windowsphonegeek.com/AppWall


Shove Halfpenny Special Promotion!

To celebrate reaching 10,000 apps in the Marketplace Web Services UK is running a special promotion on the price of one of the first apps to hit the platform from the UK, Shove Halfpenny,down to just 79p (99c).

Back in 2009, before the release of the Windows Phone SDK this game was one of the first games prototyped specifically for the platform in the UK. The production of this early PC based Silverlight version meant that this was one of the first independently produced Apps to be show working on the early Windows Phone 7 prototype hardware devices.

Shove Ha’Penny is a fun family orientated pub strategy game from the UK. Play takes place on a board with the objective being to ‘shove’ coins such that they come to a halt between the parallel lines painted on the board. The game can be played by 1 or 2 players (or teams) with play lasting a matter of seconds, minutes or even hours, as desired (the game will automatically save when the phone is used for other purposes and resume where it left off).

Basic

SlateMenuGlass

A rolling score is maintained along with an indication of the efficiency of each player (expressed as a percentage of the coins they have scored with). Different coins can be chosen (UK, US and European) and a full set of rules (this is a simple game) are included.

Basic2

Slate2

Rules

In case there is any doubt, scoring coins are marked with a green blob, and non scoring with red. Behind the game a sophisticated physics engine gives play a surprisingly realistic element to gameplay.

Shove Halfpenny App:
http://social.zune.net/redirect?type=phoneApp&id=43ce15dc-86d5-df11-a844-00237de2db9e

 


Celebrating 10,000 Apps on the Marketplace! http://tinyurl.com/676qy9l #wp7
** PLEASE RT **


Marketing Your Apps – YouTube

So a dozen Apps on the marketplace and I have never done a YouTube video – until now*! (essentially because I don’t have the equipment to do it properly.)  So with my chapter for Mike Ormond’s upcoming Kindle book in mind I thought I should have a go.

To begin with I chose an App that runs OK on the emulator (I find that my music sequencing Apps struggle a little) .

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There are many ways to skin a cat, here are the steps I took in producing the video

  1. I  used ’Expression Screen Capture’ (see above) to capture a 3 minute (or so) video in which I just ran through some of the screens. 
  2. I exported the capture using Expression Encoder to a YouTube compatible format
  3. I did a search for some public domain music and discovered that ‘Fanfare for the common man’ is PD – excellent! (note: the ELP version is not)
  4. I then opened the video in Windows Live Movie Maker and added the music and captions and subsequently spent an hour or so ‘playing’ before exporting directly to YouTube.
  5. I then modified the properties in YouTube to maximise exposure.

 

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I should say that I was very impressed with the capabilities of “Windows Live Movie Maker” – its a free consumer oriented App but incredibly easy to use and it performed very well on my lowly laptop.

Here is the final video I produced:

 

#WP7Dev Mike Ormond Kindle Book Example.

 

So all in all a lot less painful than I had imagined.  Who knows, perhaps with a bit more time I might be capable of producing something even better?

As ever I will endeavour to feed back on any ‘marketing based’ results here, including number of hits the video receives and how well the app is doing both download and income wise.  Ultimately an improved version of this post should make it into Mike Ormond’s book (all things being equal and subject to quality checks).

NB The Royal Wedding App can be downloaded here (please support it if you can!)

* Though I take this opportunity to thank Mike Ormond again for doing an early video of ‘Metro Drummer’ on my behalf.


UPDATE: I based the length of my ‘trailer’ on the length of the piece of music I was using & initial feedback is that this is way too long!  Seems obvious really but it is easy to get caught up in something and not see the wood for the trees.  I spent a few minutes in WLMM and put together the following.  Another tip that, with hindsight is just common sense – say what you want to say in the first 10 seconds of your video – that is the segment that will be watched by the most people(!).

#WP7Dev Mike Ormond Kindle Book Example (shorter)


Or maybe you could ‘take it to the max’ like this guy : 6duVKnKHc4U

If you have enjoyed this series of posts please vote here:

http://wpdev.uservoice.com/forums/110705-app-platform/suggestions/1719911-create-a-structured-mechanismn-for-devs-to-market-

Marketing Your Apps using Twitter (II)

Creating an App Specific Twitter Account for Marketing purposes.

The thinking here is that by creating a topic based Twitter account and then following people with a related interest they *may*

  1. Check out your profile (and maybe the links on it to your apps?)
  2. Follow you back  (and perhaps take a subsequent interest in your app?)

You may already be aware of a number of twitter apps that have the aim of increasing your Twitter followers.  This is a subtly different aim than this one as we simply want to raise awareness of our apps. (That said, if this exercise proves fruitful an investigation of these apps might be a sensible next step as they likely save valuable time that could  better be spent developing).

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Here are the steps I took:

  1. Created a Twitter Account called ‘RoyaltyWatcher’
  2. Updated the Twitter profile to reflect the subject of my app..
  3. Posted a number of tweets relating to the subject.
  4. Searched Twitter using terms such as #Royalty and #RoyalWedding and ‘followed’ 70 other interested parties.
  5. Sent occasional tweets related to the subject over the following week.
  6. Followed any recommendations from Twitter.

NB I will update this post with the results of this exercise next week.

Marketing your Apps – Advertising SDKs (1)

imageHaving established overwhelming support from phone owners for ‘free’ apps (as opposed to trial apps) it is a logical step for developers to look at advertising SDKs as a means of monetising an application.  The most popular option being to provide a free ‘ad supported’ version that also has an option to upgrade to a (paid for) ad-free version.

At the time of writing the Microsoft advertising SDK is not available to any developers outside the USA so today I am taking a look at one of the other options that comes from SMAATO.COM.

Implementing the Smaato Advertising SDK for WP7

The basic signup process is relatively painless, you are asked to provide some personal details and your PayPal account in order that you can receive your ad income.

I began by entering details of my ‘Royal Wedding’ app, which resulted in me being given a link to download the SDK which consists of two layers:

  1. Presentation Layer, “SomaAdViewer”, which is the normal way to use the SDK, and,
  2. Communication Layer, “SomaAd”, which gives the developer more control. (The communications layer is used by the Presentation Layer to connect with the SOMA Ad Server and download the ads).

There is also an 8 page PDF developer document and a number of examples of how to integrate the SDK into your app(s).

Once a reference is made to the SOMA DLL a Soma Ad Viewer control (a Web Browser Control) appears in the toolbox and it is simply a case of dragging the control onto the design surface and setting a few properties as advised in the developer documentation.

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The whole operation was pretty painless and the usability of the App doesn’t seem to be impacted too much.

NB I will post a breakdown of the earnings for this App in a future blog post.  Once it travels through the Marketplace ingestion process It can be viewed here:

The Royal Wedding

SMAATO.COM

Royalty

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Sandwiched in between “The King’s Speech” App and “The Royal Wedding” Apps (see below) is this app which aims to please anyone who is keeping up with the current interest in “all things Royal”.

The app uses the well know ‘Panorama’ interface peppered with some luscious graphics and pleasing UI interactivity.

Here’s the blurb:

“Beautifully crafted reference to all things Royal.  Includes a continuously updated newsfeed dedicated to the Monarchy, a ‘Royal’ Twitter feed (There are some interesting discussions around the Monarchy, the King’s Speech and the forthcoming Royal Wedding at the moment), Press Feeds from the Palace and Clarence House as well as hundreds of facts and figures about the British monarchy through the ages.”

Enthusiastic review from Laura Foy!

 

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imageimage

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So version 1.0 covers everything we could think of as relevant – but please feedback below if there is something you were hoping to see that isn’t included.


Download
Royalty Here.


Royalty was the featured App in the Marketplace on 11/6/2011 and also features in the in store App Magazine (O2 and Orange stores from June 2011)