In an effort to populate its app store, Microsoft has a new incentive to entice developers. It is offering $100 per app up to a limit of $2000 for apps published in the Windows and Windows Phone Stores before June 30.
As well as being time-limited, the "Keep the Cash " offer is also limited to:
"legal residents of the 50 United States & D.C. aged 18 or older who are a U.S. registered Windows Store and/or Windows Phone Store developer."
The terms and conditions also state:
"Offer good only to the first 10,000 qualified applications published in the Windows Store and/or Windows Phone Store, or until the end of the promotional period, whichever comes first. Limit 10 entries per publisher ID and up to $2,000 per person."
The "cash" on offer is by way of Virtual VISA cards which must be spent online within 6 months of issue.
When the incentive was blogged by Jennifer Marsman on MSDN soon after its launch on 8th March the reception was mixed. A developer from Peurto Rico, a US territory, complained about it being restricted to the 50 states while devs from outside the US also made the usual complaint about it being US-only.
Someone else commented that at $100 it wasn't worth installing the software required and that:
the offer was an insult that made the platform look like a joke.
There was one almost positive response from a developer who had a completed "metro" app on the shelf and this offer would persuade him to obtain a developer license - an annual subscription which costs $99 for a business or $49 for an individual.
Surely if Microsoft was serious about trying to get apps into its store then removing the annual subscription would be a good first move. What sense does it make to erect a barrier, no matter how small, to getting developers to submit apps. Taking $99 per annum and then offering some $100 back also seems insulting and divisive. It also seems like very small encouragement given the sorts of efforts that companies like Blackberry have been putting into getting developers on their teams.
It took a further week for news of the incentive to get more attention and again it has come in for criticism rather than approbation. As an update to Mary Jo Foley's item on zdnet puts it:
it seems like the company is trying to play the quantity game, more than the quality one, with this particular promotion.
Given that the promotion is likely to appeal most to those with existing apps on other platforms who could quickly port them to Windows or Windows Phone the lack of publicity, particularly its non-appearance on the landing page of the either Windows or Windows Phone Dev Centers, means that this campaign isn't likely to have got off to a flying start. Does this mean that Microsoft itself isn't sure about paying for apps?