Microsoft launched the Windows Marketplace for Mobile in October for Windows Mobile 6.5 phones only, but today the coverage was expanded to applications for phones running on Windows Mobile 6 or 6.1:
Today, almost all people with phones running Windows Mobile 6.0 and above with a supporting data plan can now access Marketplace. We’re delighted to bring the benefits of Marketplace to even more people, and give Windows phone developers the opportunity to reach more than 30 million devices worldwide. To get Marketplace for a Windows Mobile 6.0 or 6.1 based device, customers can simply point their phone’s browser to http://mp.windowsphone.com to start the download process; from the Web, customers can visit http://windowsphone.com/getmarketplace or simply click here. Then browse and shop a wide range of quality applications for work and play; roughly 90% of the apps in our catalogue already support Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1 devices.
We now offer over 800 applications, more than three times the number we offered when Marketplace launched just over one month ago. Additionally, over 1,000 software vendors and counting are registered to deliver great applications for work and play on Marketplace.
Windows Marketplace for Mobile is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s wildly popular iPhone App Store and the idea is fine. The problem, of course, is the declining popularity of Windows Mobile itself which according to the Gartner Group has dropped 28% in worldwide market share in the last year. I suppose the argument can be made that an app store will increase adoption, but I suspect the problem is more fundamental.
Microsoft and its mobile phone partners today launched Windows Mobile 6.5 phones under the new brand, Windows phones:
Microsoft today unveiled a new generation of phones from leading manufacturers and mobile operators that offer an intuitive user interface, powerful Web browsing, and access to an online library of downloadable services and applications. Windows phones — a new brand for phones running Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system — are now available in retail stores worldwide in a broad range of styles and prices.
The new phones were shown at press events in New York, hosted by Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, and in Paris, where Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer showed off the new Windows phones. They also announced the availability of two key services platforms for the new phones: My Phone and Windows Marketplace for Mobile. My Phone is a free service that helps people back up and manage photos, applications and other content from their phone or PC, as well as restore information in the event of a lost phone. Windows Marketplace for Mobile is an online library of business and leisure mobile applications — as well as games — that customers can buy and download directly to their phones.
The partners announcing Windows phones are listed here as well as a laundry list of what is new in Windows Mobile 6.5, but not unexpectedly it is an incremental release with a new user interface crafted on top of the same old Windows Mobile 6.1 which has lead to some predictable complaints:
Judging from the first wave of 6.5 handsets, the change OS will barely be noticeable to most folks. Alternative interfaces like TouchFLO and TouchWiz will remain, and won’t outwardly change, nor will included apps—they’re all compatible. Customers will buy Windows Mobile phones based on the quality of their 3rd party interfaces; carriers will continue to carry them because certain people, chained by their employers or a specific piece of software, will need them; and app makers will be slow to take to the Marketplace, since hey, how much longer do these Windows CE 5-based OSes even have left? It’ll be a sad, long slog until April (or god forbid, December) when Windows Mobile 7, whatever it is, finally hits phones.
To net it out, Windows Mobile 6.5, the first incarnation of Windows phone, is merely a placeholder until Windows Mobile 7 can be delivered as Steve Ballmer has publicly admitted. Meanwhile, longtime Microsoft partner Verizon has announced a "strategic partnership" with Google and a plan to launch some Android-based phones.
Microsoft has opened the gates for application developers to start submitting apps to their Windows Marketplace for Mobile Store:
Today represents another significant milestone for Windows Marketplace for Mobile, and more importantly, the first big opportunity for developers. We are now accepting application submissions from all 29 supported countries and have launched a Race to Market Challenge to kick things off. It’s time to show us what you’ve got!
Registered developers and ISVs can now upload their application, game or widget to the Windows Marketplace platform and we’ll begin certifying those apps according to the process, policies and guidelines we’ve published. We certify apps on a First In, First Out (FIFO) basis. Certification should normally take about 10 business days initially and you can always check on your application during the process through our Developer Dashboard. To better market your app, you can provide us with all the product information and promotional materials you’d like us to use to describe and showcase your application for the more than 30 million Windows Mobile devices out there
There’s more fine print by following the links, but Microsoft clearly hopes to spark a land rush as developers stake out space in the Windows Mobile app market that will hopefully be as lucrative as Apple’s iPhone store. We’ll see.
Today, Microsoft announced the revenue split terms for Windows Mobile developers selling their applications through Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace for Mobile:
Developers who sell applications through Windows Marketplace for Mobile will receive 70 percent of the revenue from the sales of each application. In addition, they will be able to set the price for their applications in each market, maximizing their revenues based on targeted pricing strategies. Developers can also choose to distribute their applications at no cost. Up to five application submissions to Windows Marketplace for Mobile is included in the introductory annual registration fee of $99 (U.S.). Each additional submission within the annual period will cost $99 (U.S.). The registration fee is waived for student developers who want to reach Windows phones customers, through enrollment in the Microsoft DreamSpark program.
But before you start working on a killer flatulence application for Windows Mobile, there’s some fine print to consider:
With Windows Marketplace for Mobile available in 29 countries, developers will be able to tap into a broad international customer base. At the same time, Microsoft will continue working with developers to ensure that their applications run optimally on Windows phones by running a rigorous certification and testing process before applications go to market. Developers will be able to see detailed feedback during and after the certification process of their application on the Windows Marketplace for Mobile developer portal. Ultimately this enables developers to devote more time to writing innovative applications, and less time trying to navigate the approval process. Developers will have access to all details once the registration doors open in the spring, and will be able to start submitting their applications later this summer.
Only time will tell how restrictive the certification process will prove to be. Tools and info at http://developer.windowsmobile.com.