Microsoft Issues Windows Store Gift Cards in Time for the Holidays
Attention holiday shoppers (and developers). Microsoft is finally catching up to Apple iTunes and Google Play, at least in the gifting department.As the crucial holiday shopping season draws closer, Microsoft is gearing up to offer Windows Store gift cards. "This holiday season, we're launching Windows Store gift cards, making it easy for consumers to purchase apps from the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store," Todd Brix, general manager for Windows Phone Apps and Store wrote in a Nov. 8 blog post. The cards will be available to purchase online or at retail stores. Microsoft is also expanding Windows Store's payment options. In China, Windows 8.1 users can now opt to pay with Alipay, a popular e-payment service with 800 million customers. In addition, the company lined up 28 new Windows Phone carrier billing partners, for a total of 46. In his post, Brix shared a rare advantage that Microsoft's app ecosystem has over its rivals. Windows Store has "13 more carrier billing partners than Google Play (iOS does not offer carrier billing)," he boasted. The payment alternative is driving sales: "on average, a [threefold] lift in revenue in developed markets and [eightfold] in emerging markets with the addition of carrier billing," Brix said.
Along with expanded payment options, the company dangled yet another carrot in front of developers. Microsoft signaled that the company's newest efforts to drive spending on its app marketplace could mean additional revenues for developers that publish apps on Windows Store.