An update from Windows Phone developers themselves

Jaime Rodriguez
On Windows Phone, Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight and Windows 7

An update from Windows Phone developers themselves

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The past few days have been very exciting for Windows Phone developers:

I am very excited about the roadmap, but I am also jazzed about our success to date, so I thought I would let developers in the marketplace tell you about their successes today.

Two weeks ago, a few developers participating in LG’s hAPPiness program were here in Redmond and I was invited to join them for an hour of “tips and tricks.”
[Sideline, the hAPPiness program is a great offer that allows LG phone owners to download and keep 10 great free apps from their marketplace. It is a wonderful promotion for apps, and as a value-add to LG phone owners, apps will rotate over time, so you will be able to pick from far more than the original twenty selected to-date].

I was able to meet most of the developers, and was impressed with their excitement, passion, and eagerness to write new apps or improve their current ones. It was so cool that I asked if I could record them to show to our internal platform teams, who always get a rise out of seeing cool apps and hearing from developers.

Here are my personal conclusions from meeting the group1:

  • Developers are making good money! None of them are retiring tomorrow or ordering a Ferrari (yet), but the money is adding up nicely. Even free applications with ads are making money. You don’t have to take only my word for this; check out this article from Inside Mobile Apps for download comparisons between Android and Windows Phone.2
  • Developers are having a lot of fun! The platform is easy to use and it is very RAD, the tools are free, we have great phones that users love, and a growing user base--not a bad playground for developers.
  • The Silverlight and Windows Phone community rocks. I don’t get to say this often, so I will use this chance to shout out to the Insiders, MVPs, early adopting partners, and all the other community folks who are on the forums, sharing their stories and their feedback (both good and bad)3.

Those were my conclusions; but you don’t take my word for it. Take time to watch the interviews  below.  
[Disclaimer: We were focused on the developer’s stories. Though they all demo their apps, the crappy recording (me), the room (improvised), and our goal of keeping the chat to just a few minutes, did not do the apps justice.
Check out the apps in the marketplace links below, and don’t forget, if you are an LG user, these are free for a limited time.

  • Balint Orosz is one of the folks from Cocktail Flow. You can watch his interview here.
    In just a month he created a very successful app leveraging the skills he had (.NET, Silverlight); he might take it to other platforms now that the concept is vetted and much better funded.
    My summary from his story:“It is OK to get started on Windows Phone, leverage your skills if you are .NET or Silverlight developer”.
  • Emad Ibrahim is the creator of  Envision, Notesly+, QuoteZen, Picasa Viewer (and possibly others since he codes faster than I blog). You can watch his interview here.
    Emad is super fast at creating apps, and is getting great ROI from his apps.  My take away on his story: “Get started now, while the competition is low.”
  • Andy Beaulieu (creator of Talking Rag Doll) and Jeff Weber creator of Krashlander.  You can watch their video here.
    Jeff is one of the original creators of the open source farseer physics engine on codeplex . Andy was the first person to wrap it in Blend, contributing some cool Blend behaviors for it. 
    I thought it was great to see community contributors meet and finally get financial benefits from their community efforts.  They seem happy that other developers are cashing and using their library/behaviors. My take away for their video, have fun!!
    [Sideline,
    according to Inside Mobile Apps, KrashLander has had 15,900 $.99 downloads in January]

Thanks to all of the devs for playing along on such short notice and letting me share their recordings. Check out their apps--and good luck creating your own!

Foot-notes:

1 I have to emphasize these are my personal conclusions. Don’t over-generalize it to my employer or folks in the Windows Phone team.
2 I don’t want to spin the numbers and compare to Android (you can ignore that part or not, your call). I only refer to the article because they have independent numbers on how well apps some are selling.
3 Again, the platform and phone have been rock-solid. The area where we have been less than stellar is the marketplace. I can assure you that the right people are listening; there have been a huge number of improvements, and there are more on the way. There are 8,000+ apps in the marketplace, so clearly it ain’t all broken; be persistent and keep pushing us. I will come back to the marketplace topic in a future post (hold me to this).

 

  • Great to see the interviews with these devs.  Looking forward to the marketplace updates (really hoping that when I update an existing App in the marketplace my starting point will be fully populated!)

    Keep up the great work with this platform!

  • You get the impression that ALL developers are happy but they are not. It's all good if you are US based but worldwide the situation is really different. Making money from an app is almost impossible outside US. The ad sdk is only for US and the payment system date from medieval times. Worldwide we need more care from Microsoft. For instance why not using Paypal as a well established payment system? I had a conference call with Redmond few weeks ago and the only answers to my different questions was we are working on this. How long do we need to wait for things to be fixed. Now regarding the 8000 apps how many are duplicates of themselves or fart applications. Don't even let me start on the I Am Rich crap stuff. I love my phone, I enjoy developing apps but I am not an happy one.

  • Peter, as a non-US developer I completely agree. The main issue for indie devs right now is that only the few top games are making money while most people won't even get enough revenue to pay back the marketplace subscription fee.

    XBOX Live games are heavily promoted in the marketplace and in the games hub, so it's very difficult for the others to compete in what is not really a fair competition. One good way to to so is (was) with free ad-supported games, except 1) the sdk is not accessible outside the US (and alternatives are suboptimal) and most important 2) since January free games are not listed in the phone marketplace categories. The only way to find them now is with the Find function or in the "new" list for a while: you can imagine this will kill them in no time.

    I hope these issues will be considered and addressed because I really like the OS and the development environment is spectacular, so much better than anything else, and it would be a shame for it to fail.

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