Microsoft Cuts Costs to Solve Windows Phone App Problem

In what is likely a move to spur the platform’s momentum with independent developers who are looking to create the next big application, Microsoft has lowered the price it charges developers to release their apps in the Windows Phone Store.

In sessions at this week’s BUILD developer conference, Microsoft said that it would lower the price of obtaining a Windows Phone Developer account to just $19. For reference, before the pricing change, users looking to create applications and sell them in the Windows Phone Store had to pay $99 a year.

Though the pricing change is huge for small developers who are looking to get their feet wet with coding for the platform, it’s also important to remember that Windows Phone doesn’t allow for users to side load their own applications onto their devices. Instead, all apps must be downloaded from the Windows Phone Store.

Microsoft says that the price will remain $19 for a limited time.

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The same is not true with developer unlocked devices. With a Windows Phone Developer account, users can unlock their device and side load application packages over USB, circumventing the Windows Phone Store’s approval process. While $99 might have been a steep price to pay for that privilege, $19 could seem like a downright bargain to enthusiasts who like to tinker.

Microsoft also took the opportunity to share some statistics that prove the Windows Phone Store is continuing to move in a good direction for both users and developers in terms of applications.

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According to slides captured by Windows Phone Central, in the seven months since Microsoft made Windows Phone 8 and the Windows Phone 8 Software Development Kit available, the company has seen more than 52,000 applications submitted to the Windows Phone Store. The company also noted that Windows Phone has over 160,000 applications total.

Microsoft also said that the Windows Phone platform is approaching 102,000 developers and 200,000,000 application downloads a month. While that’s not exactly impressive considering Apple recently crossed 50 Billion applications sold, it’s still historic for a mobile platform that’s trying to dig themselves out from a position with market share only hovering in the single digits in most territories.

If Microsoft can continue to improve these numbers and attract app creators and enthusiasts with the lower price of Windows Phone Store developer accounts, it could go a long way towards gaining ground on both iOS and Android.

Apple charges a $99 fee for developers to add their applications to the iTunes Store while the Google Play Store for Android is completely free and open to everyone. Android also allows users to side load applications onto their devices.

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