by Al Sacco

Microsoft Windows Marketplace for Mobile: Development Details Emerge

Mar 11, 20093 mins
Enterprise Applications

This morning, Microsoft released a number of interesting factoids about its upcoming mobile application store, the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Topping the list of noteworthy details: Windows Mobile developers will not only retain 70 percent of the sale of applications via the new marketplace, but also be free to price those apps any way they please. Boo-yah BlackBerry App World!

Microsoft Windows Mobile Device
Microsoft Windows Mobile Device

Research In Motion (RIM), one of Microsoft’s main competitors in the smartphone space, recently announced a $2.99 starting price point for applications in its upcoming BlackBerry App World store—not counting free software. RIM was slammed by users and critics alike—myself included—for its lack of flexibility in app pricing. Looks like Microsoft wisely decided to leave cost details in the hands of developers. Apple, which operates the largest, most successful app store in the business, lets developers set their own software prices as well.

Redmond also announced that Windows Market Place for Mobile, which is based on the as-of-yet unreleased Windows Mobile 6.5 OS, will be initially available in 29 countries. Developers will be able to employ existing tools to create apps, including the Windows Mobile 6 SDK and .NET Compact Framework 3.5.

Interested developers must pay an annual $99 registration fee, which includes their first five app submissions, and another $99 for each subsequent submission. That seems a bit pricey to me, especially for developers looking to distribute free applications. But student Windows Mobile developers won’t need to pay the registration fee if they enroll in Microsoft’s DreamSpark program. (RIM’s currently charging $200 for every 10 submissions.)

Developers will keep 70 percent of the sale of applications via the Windows Mobile marketplace, which is the same amount Apple developers retain. RIM is, however, letting BlackBerry developers keep 80 percent of the sale of App World software.

New apps will also undergo “rigorous certification and testing,” though developers should be able to login to the Windows Marketplace for Mobile developer portal to receive detailed commentary on their apps throughout the entire process. This will let developers devote the majority of their time to coming up with and writing new, innovative applications, instead of wasting it on hiccups with the approval process, Microsoft says.

Apple has been widely criticized for its less-than-open app approval process.

More details should be available on the Microsoft Windows Marketplace for Mobile in the near future. It’s expected to open its virtual doors later this spring. (BlackBerry App World will open sometime this month, according to RIM.)

Only time will tell if Microsoft’s app store—or RIM’s or Nokia’s or Google’s—will give Apple and iTunes a run for its dollars, but one thing’s for sure: I’m thrilled that Microsoft didn’t stick with the previously-floated name for the store: SkyMarket.

See more details on Windows Mobile development tools on Microsoft’s site.