New revenue opportunities for Windows developers?

So I was in two minds as to what the make the title for this blog post but having received the email below from microsoft this morning my immediate take away wasn’t about the ‘new opportunities’ but about the decreased cut of app proceeds imposed on developers.  here is the email:

Adding new revenue opportunities for you is a key priority for Windows Store. To attract more store customers, we recently launched new Windows Store and Xbox gift cards. Gift cards are now available at thousands of new retail locations and online stores in 41 markets. Windows and Xbox gift cards work interchangeably and can be used on both Windows and Xbox stores. Sales associates will promote gift cards to customers who want to give gifts, buy apps without a credit card, or fund a child’s account without the worry of overspending.

With the recent expansion and because gift cards have higher costs due to packaging costs and revenue sharing with channel partners, a Commerce Expansion Adjustment will be added to app and in-app product purchases made with gift cards. The Commerce Expansion Adjustment is an additional percentage on top of the normal Store Fee (percentage of Net Receipts) that is deducted in calculating the App Proceeds payable for apps or in-app product transactions using gift cards.
The Commerce Expansion Adjustment for gift cards will take effect in
specified markets in March 2016 at a rate of 2.24%. Details about how the Commerce Expansion Adjustment is calculated and deducted from App Proceeds can be found in the App Developer Agreement.
Windows Dev Center allows you to choose which markets you publish your apps and how you price them in each market. In doing so, you may want to consider if the Commerce Expansion Adjustment applies in a specific market and factor that into your market pricing strategy going forward.
For further details about the Commerce Expansion Adjustment and the list of markets where it applies see your
App Developer Agreement and Windows Dev Center.
Thank you,
The Windows Dev Center Team

I am sad to see that there is a need to cut developer proceeds in this way.  I have found it difficult to justify the development of apps for Windows and Windows Mobile (in spite of the fact that I have found the process enjoyable and the tooling excellent) and have felt forced into looking at reducing (if not completely eliminating) the time I am able to devote to developing apps for the Microsoft store.

Sad times.

 

Update

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It is with some sadness that I have decided to withdraw all my apps from the Windows Store.  I felt this was necessary in order  to clear the decks and prepare for future projects.

NB My understanding is that this process will take some time before it is reflected in the non availability of some 300 or so of my apps in the Windows and Mobile Store.

App Sales on the Windows Platform

Something strange has been going on with my Windows Phone and App store downloads.

Windows Store App Sales

So not a very inspiring story but this graph shows sales revenue (not ad revenue) for Apps between April and June this year.  The graph shows a regular income from App sales of between £5 and £10 per day up until around 6th May when suddenly not only are there no sales but there are more refunds than is the norm.

image(Click on the graph to enlarge)

And so I put in a request to Microsoft to investigate this strange phenomena.  Some weeks passed and after a series of exchanges I got a message back saying everything is normal (!?)

Windows Phone App Sales

A similar story with my Windows Phone sales (I have an outstanding request to investigate this from that team also).

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To my mind the chances of this happening through the normal course of events are so small as to be discountable?

And so the purpose of this post   (and I feel a little bad that I have had to resort to this) is to ‘shame’ Microsoft into actually giving me an explanation of what is wrong instead of a series (of which the below is the latest) of emails attempting to persuade me that everything is OK.

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NB I have replied to the email above with a link to this blog post.

If anyone else has experienced similar phenomena please let me know.

Which Diet? (Windows Phone 8)

 

Fit

I needed to loose a few pounds after Christmas (6 so far!) and found I was a little bewildered by the number and variety of diet programs along with the amount of abstract advice I was being given.

Now everyone of us is different and for sure there is a diet plan out there that will fit you like a glove  (at least until you lose a few pounds).

This app covers the popular diet programs of the day and features real people talking about their own experiences with each diet.  The videos range from introductions of what constitutes the diet and how best to start, to peoples’ own experiences at various stages in to the diet.

You can save the most useful videos, reviewing them as often as you like. and new videos are published daily allowing you to follow someone else’s’ progress (perhaps before ‘jumping in’ yourself!)

 

Take a look at the screenshots above or jump straight in and try the App, and good luck with your diet!


Which Diet – Free ad- supported version.


Windows Phone Marketplace Account Notice – IP Violation Warning

 

A little odd, I received the following email today but have not had any indication of which Apps might be infringing copyright.  Anyone else in the same position?

“This is to inform you that you have more than one Intellectual Property complaint against your account. If we receive one additional Intellectual Property complaint regarding your account, your account may be terminated without further warning.

Note: if your account is terminated, all your applications will be unpublished and not be available to republish.

If you have any questions about the requirements of copyright, trademark or other laws, please consult an attorney.

Windows Phone Store Team”

Is anyone from the Windows Phone team able to comment?  Surely it would be sensible to alert me of any specific complaints before sending what appears to be a generalised notification?

Dramatic increase in App downloads since the release of Windows Phone 8

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At this stage downloads of my own Windows Phone Apps appear to have doubled since the release of Windows Phone 8 – with downloads continuing to increase on a daily basis.

While reading positive sales stats and figures from Microsoft and Nokia is always a good thing, having access to ‘real data’ such as this helps confirm that the positive buzz around the platform is being translated into real world results.

As a developer I am energised around the development of future Apps for Windows Phone, particularly in light of the opportunities for shared code and Apps with Windows 8.


NB In order to read the above graph in context to this post, ignore the ‘cumulative’ line and note that daily sales have risen from around 275 on 18th October to around 550 on 9th December.

Windows Phone Tile browser for Windows 8

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Live Tiles: ‘Get the important facts at a glance’

As owners of a Windows Phone we love our Live Tiles.  Apart from the convenience they can save us valuable time when its simply not an option to stop what you are doing and fire up an App.
But as an early adopter of Windows Phone myself one thing I have always struggled with is finding useful and relevant live tiles!  This App goes some way to alleviating this issue by providing examples of commonly used Live Tiles together with a means of downloading their constituent apps to your phone.

The App is designed to be very simple to use.

Here is a typical walk through:

1. Browsing the Live Tiles

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Swipe left and right to view typical examples of the Live Tiles on offer. (Additionally you might use the Filter to highlight particular categories of interest, or switch to ‘App View’ in order to see Live Tiles grouped according to their parent Phone Apps).

2. Selecting a Live Tile

QR Code Highlighted

Touching a tile will act as a toggle between the tile and a special picture code (Known as a QR code) that can be read by your Phone.

3. Downloading the Live Tile App to your phone

QR Selection

Touch your phones ‘scan’ onscreen button (an option that you get when you select the Search hardware button on the bottom right of your phone).  The link will then take you directly to an install for the Live Tiles’ parent App.

Developer Opportunities.

The App is open to any independent developer of Windows Phone Apps to highlight their own Live Tiles at no cost.  Contact the developers (rd3d@WebServices.co.uk) or comment below if you are interested!

Live Tile News – Download Stats

“Live Tile News” had a very favourable review on the BBC’s technology program “Click” last week and I have had a lot of questions around the impact on downloads.

The first chart shows downloads for April – with the healthy spike being a result of the coverage received.

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The second chart is specific to “Live Tile News” and shows the more dramatic spike in interest as a result of the show.

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The vast majority of downloads were, as might be expected, in the UK but as this App supports US and Global news it will be interesting to monitor if there is any knock on effect in these territories going forward.

Ian

NB The review can be viewed on my earlier blog post here


Live Tile News (Ad Supported)

Live Tile News (Premium)


NB All developer proceeds from sales and advertising of this App go to charity

Windows Phone 7.11 Tango Memory Requirements


Just got this email from Microsoft, looks like I have a little work to do …

On Monday, Microsoft announced an update to Windows Phone, targeted at bringing the high-end smartphone user experience to more affordable phones in new places around the world. Windows Phone will now enable our partners to deliver low cost phones using the Qualcomm 7x27a processor and 256 MB on-board memory.
As we said when we initially announced Windows Phone, our prime directive in building this product has been the notion that the ‘end user is king.’ This ideal has guided every decision we made. When tailoring Windows Phone to run on lower cost hardware, an enormous amount of effort went into ensuring as outstanding an end user experience as possible.
We didn’t stop with first party experiences. We know that third party apps are critical to today’s smartphone users, so we focused on ensuring that most apps run well on the new hardware. To accomplish this, a lot of tweaking of the application model was necessary. We’ve implemented OS level changes that will alleviate memory pressure on applications with an automatic paging solution. We conducted a comprehensive testing and optimization effort across a broad spectrum of third party apps. By the time we approached the end of our release cycle, approximately 95% of all third party apps were running satisfactorily on 256 MB devices.
We’re contacting you because you have an app that falls into the category of the 5% of apps that do not run satisfactorily on 256 MB devices. Your app will be flagged as requiring > 256 MB, and will not be available to customers who browse to your app in the Windows Phone Marketplace from a 256 MB device.
We’d love to help rectify that situation. We expect 256 MB devices to garner a significant percentage of Windows Phone sales volume. On 2/27, we publicly released a technical preview of an update to our Windows Phone SDK that will enable you to test and optimize your apps for 256 MB devices. The final version of our update will release next month. Note that you will need to recompile with the final version before you can resubmit.

App Name(s): Aston Villa
http://windowsphone.com/s?appid=7d86bba2-21ab-e011-a53c-78e7d1fa76f8
We’ve observed via our remote instrumentation that your application tends to use more memory than we can accommodate on 256 MB devices. You should use the memory profiler in Visual Studio to track down high memory usage scenarios, and attempt to address them in your code.
App Name(s): Gadget Watch
http://windowsphone.com/s?appid=d4310f9e-545c-e011-854c-00237de2db9e
We’ve observed via our remote instrumentation that your application tends to use more memory than we can accommodate on 256 MB devices. You should use the memory profiler in Visual Studio to track down high memory usage scenarios, and attempt to address them in your code.

If you believe strongly that your application simply cannot be tailored appropriately to run on 256 MB devices, you do have the option to ‘opt out’ of availability in the Marketplace for these devices. Once opted out, your application will be visible in Marketplace on 256 MB devices, but users will not be able to purchase/download your app; they’ll receive a message that your application requires a device with more than 256 MB of RAM. If you submit an update to your application in the future, and wish to remain ‘opted out’, you’ll need to ensure you set the appropriate manifest flag in your WMAPPMANIFEST file to indicate that your application requires greater than 256 MB of RAM.
More information will be available on February 27 at http://create.msdn.com.
Microsoft’s vision has always been about bringing technological innovation to widest set of people possible. We’re excited to begin this process. We hope you will join us.
Thanks!
Larry Lieberman
Product Manager, Windows Phone Developer Ecosystem


NB Great article on memory management from Nokia here: http://www.developer.nokia.com/Community/Wiki/Techniques_for_memory_analysis_of_Windows_Phone_apps

MWC Devs: What’s in your App Arsenal?

Now more than ever its important for developers who have a primary focus on one platform to keep abreast of what is happening with todays competing platforms.

These apps focus on the main competitors to the Windows Phone platform with an additional app dedicated to keeping up to speed with things in the Nokia camp:

 

Grab them now:

Android Watch

Apple Watch

Nokia Watch

Indie Developers vs. XBOX Live Apps. My Story.

When I first started development for Windows Phone I remember excitedly travelling down to Microsoft in London for the day as I had the chance to test out my Apps on a real live Windows development phone!  At the time I had several Apps that I had developed in Silverlight with a view to porting to Windows Phone (this one made it, this one didn’t!).

One of the things that I heard tell of on this day was “turn by turn game play over the XBOX live network”.  Great! Thought I and envisaged playing ‘Shove Halfpenny’ with my in Laws in Dublin.  “Ahhh, but Xbox Live is reserved for ‘la crème de la crème’” I was told.  And that was pretty much that.

It’s no secret that the XBOX Live games are indeed ‘la crème de la crème’ and it is difficult (though not impossible) for independent developers to develop a successful XBOX Live enabled game.

So I guess those words ‘la crème de la crème’ have always bothered me a bit and I started to daydream about opportunities for independent developers like myself.  (Indeed, this was the thinking behind my series of blog posts on Marketing for Independent Developers last year).

But now there may be a glimmer of hope for us downtrodden indies, the faint glint of a tool that might help us in our toil.  What if we could harness the thing that singly differentiates and at the same time exemplifies what is great about Windows Phone? What might I be referring to?

The “Live Tile” of course!

Yes, Live Tiles are great, but how on earth do you find them?  You maybe find an App you like the sound of, then read the description hoping for an indication that it supports live tiles?.

But now there is …

The “Live Tile Browser” tm

What is it? Well its free, so the easiest thing to do if you are that way inclined is to download it and have a quick play:

http://windowsphone.com/s?appid=d68906de-da5d-4f64-9b88-154f1f5d3c07

If you would like to read a bit more, or perhaps participate by marketing your own Live tiles through the browser app and its sister site (http://LiveTiles.co.uk) there is another blog post with more information here: Live Tile Marketplace Browser

I would also really appreciate your feedback.  What do you think of the idea?  How can it be improved on?  Should MS be doing this?

Please let me know your thoughts.


Apps mentioned in this article: