Microsoft is trying to expand its share of the pie when it comes to mobile apps. It has now surpassed 40,000 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace - but that's still a small slice. Two very different schemes are running in the US and UK to attract more app submissions.
Microsoft seems to be pretty desperate to attract developers and is trying out a variety of promotional schemes by way of contests and challenges. It's attempt to motivate US developers to create apps for Windows Phone 7 and submit them to Marketplace is the a campaign whereby selected apps will gain guaranteed exposure that should result in real revenue.
In the UK developers gain points for each published app and points mean prizes. Are UK and US developers so very dissimilar that such different approaches will work?
If you are an would-be app developer there are a couple of disincentives to choosing the Windows Phone Marketplace. One is that the potential market is currently smaller than that of Android and Apple; the other is the $99 fee before you can submit an app - unless you are a student enrolled in the Microsoft DreamSpark program.
So what are the details of the new incentives on offer?
Both were launched on November 7 but don't seem to have had the amount of publicity that might have been anticipated. For both schemes you have to go through two registrations to be eligible: one for App Hub, the other for the promotional scheme.
In the case of Your App Here, restricted to US residents developers are lured by the prospect of a digital advertising campaign. For the three months, December 2011, January 2012 and February 2012 Microsoft will select a maximum of seven phone apps judged to be the best to be published during the month and will give them additional exposure using online banners on MSN sites network and featuring the application exclusively for a day on Windows Phone Marketplace.
UK residents on the other hand can join the Developer Rewards Program whereby every successful and original application published in the Windows Phone marketplace earns a point which can be exchanged for a reward.
A total of 1400 points are on offer, developers can earn up to a maximum of 4 points and there are rewards worth 1, 2, 3 and 4 points. The rewards range from a 12 month magazine subscription or a Gyro Stealth Flyer R/C Helicopter or a Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two with 1 point to an XBox 360 or a Performance Car Experience for 4 points. There are five choices at each of the four levels and these prizes can be seen here. There are also three monthly draw prizes on offer - but so far no details of what they are even though we are half way through the first period which runs November 7th to December 4th.
Will these incentives work?
Well I'm not so confident of having an app accepted that I want to part with $99 per annum. Perhaps Microsoft could organize a competition in which it offered lots of free subscriptions to App Hub. However, if I qualified as a student and could submit up to 100 apps without having to part with my own cash then I think I'd set my sights on getting two apps accepted in the UK in exchange for a flying lesson. But this is just cynicism isn't it... The point is that the work involved in developing any app is huge compared to the incentives being offered. However, any even slight barrier to getting started, such as a $99 annual fee and the need to sign up, could stop a brilliant idea from ever getting off the ground. My advice to Microsoft would be to drop the stick and forget the carrots...
The Microsoft DreamSpark Program has lot of other incentives as well, so it's well worth checking it out if you're likely to be eligible.
Your App Here (US only)
Developer Rewards Program (UK only)
Microsoft DreamSpark Program
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