Microsoft plans to charge mobile-application developers $99 to release upgraded versions of applications they submit to the Windows Mobile Marketplace, and will also charge them for minor updates unless they are released within seven days of the application's debut.
When Microsoft announced plans for its Windows Mobile Marketplace application store earlier this month, it said it planned to charge developers $99 a year to participate in the program as well as a $99 fee per application submission--although as part of a promotional offer developers who registered this year could submit up to five applications for free.
After IDG News Service spotted a message posted from Microsoft's official Windows Mobile Twitter account that notes "upgrades/updates are new app submissions," developers started to wonder if upgrades to their applications would count against the five-application limit.
A Microsoft representative revealed in an e-mail, however, that the five-applications offer only applies to separate and distinct applications. In addition, developers will have to pay to submit upgrades to their existing applications--not just for new applications.
The cost to upgrade a previously submitted application will be $99. However, developers are able to update a previously certified application for 7 days from the time the application was originally published, free of charge. An update may include resolving any bugs with the application or providing minor updates. Applications being updated do not need to be recertified.
Microsoft's thinking appears to be based on giving developers a financial disincentive to rush hastily coded applications to the market, hoping that they will take their time and emphasize quality over speed. Then after the app is released, developers will have an incentive to fix the bugs that do make it through the development process as quickly as possible.
But it seems this strategy will have the effect of putting a ceiling on the number of applications that will be submitted to the Windows Mobile Marketplace. Developers have a number of options these days for their mobile software, including Apple's App Store, Google's Android Market, and the BlackBerry App World store expected to be unveiled next week at the CTIA conference. Apple charges $99 a year for unlimited submissions, and Google charges a one-time $25 fee for the same privileges.
It's going to be much more expensive for those developers to maintain an application on the Windows Mobile Marketplace. Of course, developers may not care if their application sells well; Microsoft, like Apple and Google, plans to let developers keep 70 percent of the revenue they generate.
But it will be interesting to see how developers react to Microsoft's policies. The Windows Mobile Marketplace is expected to arrive along with the release of Windows Mobile 6.5 in the fourth quarter.