Microsoft is encouraging developers of mobile applications to charge more than 99 cents for the software they post on Microsoft's Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Rival companies such as Research In Motion have already boosted the minimum price for many mobile applications. Microsoft's move can also be seen as a shot at Apple, whose App Store charges 99 cents for a wide variety of apps-something that could frustrate developers looking for better margins on their products.
is encouraging developers to charge more for mobile applications they design
for the company's newest mobile-device operating system, Windows Mobile 6.5.
"We would definitely want to promote that you make more money selling
applications than selling your application in a dollar store," Loke Uei,
senior technical product manager for Microsoft's Mobile Developer Experience
Team, told a gathering of mobile application developers in Redmond, Wash., on
Aug. 19. "I know, 99 cents is interesting-yes, consumers like to pay 99
cents for applications.
"But 99 cents, come on, I think your app is worth more than that."
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to eWEEK on Aug. 20 that Windows
Marketplace for Mobile, which will
be available with Windows Mobile 6.5 in the fall, will allow independent software
vendors and developers to set their own price for applications. The
spokesperson also suggested that applications for the Marketplace would
generally fall in the $0.99 to $29.99 price range, with a selection available
Other mobile-application providers already charge generally higher prices
for their software. For example, Research In Motion's BlackBerry App World has
set an initial floor of $2.99 for its paid applications, which theoretically could
reach a price as high as $999.99
. Palm may also set its app prices higher
In addition to capitalizing on that trend, Microsoft may also be playing
into the frustrations of developers wanting a higher profit margin from their
App Store applications. Although developers can charge far larger amounts for
iPhone software they develop, the sheer number of apps present in each of the
App Store's categories can make it difficult for developers to build an
audience unless they price their wares competitively, which often means
zero-cost or $0.99.
On July 27, Microsoft
opened its Windows Marketplace to developers
, a decision that the company
hopes will allow it to build an ecosystem of 600 applications before Windows
Mobile 6.5 launches in October. Windows Mobile 6.5 is designed to make
Microsoft's mobile operating system more competitive against Palm, RIM and
Apple, with features such as built-in Flash support and on-screen icons and
widgets that can be manipulated via multitouch.
Microsoft is claiming that the applications available through Marketplace
for Mobile will be backed by a
Microsoft has a potentially tough road ahead in the mobile space. Recent
rumors from Taiwan suggest that, to better compete against its rivals, Redmond
may offer two mobile operating systems by the fourth quarter of 2010
Windows Mobile 6.5 and 7, the latter of which will include more functionality
and be firmly aimed at the higher end of the market currently occupied by the
iPhone and the Palm Pre.
Although mobile applications are already a big business for tech companies,
analysts predict that the market will only grow in years to come. According to
a report by Juniper Research, the number of mobile application downloads will
approach nearly 20 billion per year by 2014.