Microsoft’s App Incentive Won’t Excite Many Developers

Is Microsoft’s incentive program for app developers a sign of desperation?

HTC Windows PhoneThe software giant’s offering developers $100 for each app published in the Windows and Windows Phone stores. The cash is limited to $1,000 per store. It’s part of a campaign to take a bigger share of the market that’s overwhelmingly dominated by Apple and Google. By some estimates, there could be as many as 800,000 apps out there, but not many of them are built for Windows.

There are plenty of observers who say Microsoft’s latest foray into the mobile space is turning out to be something of a bust. Reports of low sales abound. For example, “Smartphones and tablets based on Microsoft’s Windows operating system aren’t selling very well,” Samsung’s Co-CEO, J.K. Shin, told The Wall Street Journal last week.

So, Microsoft’s being pragmatic. If it hasn’t been able to lure developers with coolness and hype, it’s going to dangle money. But some analysts doubt the incentives will move the needle.

“Microsoft is playing catch up, at best,” says Rob Reilly, a technology consultant based in Orlando and the guide of the Dice Mobile Development Talent Community. “I don’t think it’s going to distract the existing Android and iOS developers, because they’re either making it or not. Moving over to Microsoft for $100 per app really isn’t much of a draw, in my opinion — even for starving developers.” Reilly thinks the approach is “a gimmick.”

Besides that, the program doesn’t clear away one of the major hurdles that Redmond faces, says Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “With apps, you get what you pay for, and for $100, you will get very focused, low-quality apps that fill in the ‘long-tail’ of the app catalog,” he says. “It doesn’t solve Windows 8’s biggest challenge, which is to get more and better A-list titles.”

Another analyst, Jeff Kagan, is hesitant to call Microsoft’s move desperate, but he doesn’t believe it will help it gain market share, nor does he see it attracting developers. “The problem is app makers have a full-time job creating apps for Android and Apple,” he says. “So I’m not sure what it will take to break through.”

He’s rooting for Microsoft, though. “I think the marketplace will be better off with many more competitors, but I’m not seeing them lining up for anything other than Apple and Google,” Kagan says. “Between the two they have 80 or 90 percent of marketplace. I don’t see Microsoft’s effort to compensate developers making a difference.”

7 Responses to “Microsoft’s App Incentive Won’t Excite Many Developers”

  1. Garry Hurley Jr

    Well, there goes my April Fool’s gag. What is the one thing that makes any Windows device complete? The BSOD of course! For those who are too young to remember Windows 3.1 and before (a shame) the BSOD is also known as the “Blue Screen of Death”. Originally, it was the very vague and nondescript error “An Exception 0E has occurred” along with a memory dump. For several years, we all wondered what 0E meant, except that it was hexadecimal for 13. It turns out that it was a memory error. Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, and XP each tried to add more to the BSOD. I got one the other day with my Windows 7 laptop, and it actually said “Blue Screen” on the error message. Go figure! Anyhow, as an April Fool’s Day gag, I was considering putting up an app that just put up a BSOD and selling it for $.99. Not really worth it now. Oh, well, let’s let this be my claim of IP rights to the BSOD idea and app name and if someone reads this and posts the app after this posting, they will have to pay me royalties for taking the idea. I will be happy with $.99 per download. Charge whatever you want.

  2. This program is far too little and far too late. These days, membership in a developer program doesn’t get you a box of goodies, but rather rights to log into a web site and download tools and doc. In truth, the deliverables are nothing but another copy of downloaded materials. I fail to see why Microsoft doesn’t just give away membership in the developer program for free to start with. Then if they want to pay a reward for publishing apps, that is fine and perhaps some encouragement .

    • This is where the marketing team could help…make it $99 to become a member but offer a $99 discount now through xxx (e.g. June 30). Once it takes off and people are actually using the parts, then they could start charging because new developers would know it’s worth it. And if they want to have a $99/year fee, then it would be worthwhile if you have an app that’s generating revenue. I’m still amazed that so many people have paid good money to get into the Apple store and so few get any return on their investment…what a bunch of suckers, all teaching Apple that it’s great to rip people off because you have a market. MS is now trying that model but they don’t have the same set of suckers ready to give them money in return for essentially nothing except a chance to show off.

  3. Microsoft just needs to keep to what they already have and stick with enterprise and desktop and laptop PCs. I have had the displeasure of dealing with their Win8 OS both over phone and PC great idea for social media, not much more in my opinion. I don’t think Microsoft is going to be able to take a substantial gain in the tablet and smartphone market. I have a tablet and smartphone and both are running Android systems and are more capable by far then Win8.