D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Adventures with Windows Phone 7 – The Marketplace

Monday, October 11, 2010 12:49 AM

With the upcoming announcements around Windows Phone 7, I thought now would be a good time to dive into the platform and see what its all about. For those thinking that writing apps for the WP7 platform would be like writing apps for any other platform, prepare for a reality check (unless you’ve written XNA apps for the XBOX Live marketplace…I’m assuming the process is somewhat similar).

A key aspect of the WP7 experience is the Marketplace – a Microsoft controlled gateway to getting your mobile application available to the millions of WP7 (and earlier) users. Similar to Apple and Google, the Marketplace has rules and standards about the apps that it offers. It also involves a non-trivial process to actually get into the Marketplace.

The Initiation

Getting an account with the Marketplace seems straightforward at first. You visit http://developer.windowsphone.com and click on the “Register for the Marketplace” link to begin. You specify if you’re an incorporation, individual or…student (?)…there was a third option…I wrestled with the first two, and opted to register under my personal incorporation.

This is where I ran into my first issue. The personal information form doesn’t allow for the main contact of an incorporation to also be the approver…well, actually it does, but you’re forced to have different email addresses…same name is fine. This is silly of course, since all I did was create a new Gmail account to use for the approver contact.

Part of the process is also purchasing a one year membership. I’m not sure if everyone has to do this, or just those that select their org type as a business (saw an FAQ that supports this). Anyway, for Canadian peeps that may have seen the $99 price tag, that must be American because I got charged $120.

I received one email from Geotrust asking to accept the request to join the Marketplace, but I heard nothing else. I went back tonight and clicked the “Resend Verification Email” link and finally got the email where I could verify my primary email, which *should* be the kickoff to getting me validated through Geotrust (you have to prove you are who you say you are…not sure if this is via email or a telephone call…stay tuned!).

So that’s where things stand now…waiting game to hear back from the powers that be. Here’s a few other tidbits though:

Publishing to Marketplace is Not Free  Free

Update: Microsoft has released their new “App Hub” site for submitting applications to the Windows Phone and the XBOX Live Indie Game marketplaces. As part of this, it seems the per-certification charge original talked about is gone! Check out my blog post that talks about the app hub and the updated program changes here.

Remember that $120 membership fee I had to pay? That just gets me the privilege of being able to submit apps. For each application I submit, I need to pay an additional $99 (probably $120 in Canada). This fee covers the certification process: vetting your app to ensure that its good/safe enough to make available on the Marketplace. Also if your application fails certification, you then need to pay an additional $99 to re-submit it…and $99 if subsequent submissions are required. Voluntarily updating your app doesn’t require a charge, but I’m curious if lines will be drawn (“Yes I know it started out as a game, but now its a Bing Maps enabled hotel rate finder!”).

Also, that fee to submit an app applies regardless of whether you intend to charge money for it or not; so if you upload a free app, you still end up paying to put it up there.

UPDATE: So apparently the Help pages that talk about the $99 fee per application submission are old and outdated. In speaking with peeps on Twitter, the word is that the new program changes are that you can put up to 5 free apps and unlimited for-fee apps with your annual membership fee (so there’s still a membership fee, but not a certification fee). I’m waiting to get some sort of official confirmation, but if this is true its good news for WP7 devs. Also, students do not have to pay the registration fee for the marketplace if they’re enrolled in Dreamspark.

All Canadians Live in Alaska

I was a little WTF when I saw my personal profile listed my province as Alaska. From this post on the forums, this is just a bug in the UI and the actual data is still right.

Update: This has been fixed in the new App Hub site.

WP7 Marketplace Not Open For Business Yet

Unfortunately even though I have a WP7 app ready to deploy, I don’t know that I’ll be able to in short order. This post on the forums from a few days ago talks about the “First Wave”. Apparently select people will be invited to start adding apps to the marketplace, and the full marketplace will be open in November (according to this post also from the forums).

Maybe things will start opening up after the announcement tomorrow by MS regarding WP7. So far it hasn’t been as smooth as I would have thought it would be.

Next up, I’ll blog about the development experience around WP7. I opted to look at Silverlight instead of XNA, and there are some things to be aware of (mainly around required standards of every application).

D




Feedback

# re: Adventures with Windows Phone 7 – The Marketplace

Nope, the process isn't like that at ALL for XBLIG. This is a whole new beast.

You sign up for a membership to deploy games to your Xbox 360 (we call that the "Creator's Club Membership") and it does run you $99 US dollars a year (so that's pretty similar). But the sign up is much simpler.

It's simpler basically because you fill in company information later. The $99 just gives you the ability to deploy games to the 360 in your house for development and testing purposes. So they don't really expect you to fill in any business information until you've decided to take that plunge.

Once you do, you just fill in your business information and start submitting apps/games to the XBLIG peer review system.

No extra fees, no official review process, no quality control system. Just submit away.

That unfortunately has been a very AWESOME thing about XBLIGs but also one of the reasons a lot of us attribute to it not succeeding. Without quality control of some sort, the market gets flooded with all sorts of apps/games and the negative attention that brought the channel was not good.

So yeah, some similarities, but not many. The WP7 marketplace is taking an entirely different tactic. I'm guessing they've learned some things from the way XBLIGs worked...

Guess we'll all see. 10/11/2010 8:59 AM | George Clingerman

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