Windows Marketplace for Mobile preview video teases the app store you want, don’t yet have

[flv:wmmarketplace.f4v 640 360]

Building up to the Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.5-centric keynote at the International CTIA Wireless 2009 event on Thursday April 2, a new promotional video has been released about the much-anticipated Windows Marketplace for Mobile – the app store Microsoft don’t want to call an “app store”.

wmmarketplace1This is an interesting video because it is the first time the actual store experience has been shown, whereas previous announcements have just acknowledged it exists. The video demonstrates a simple scrolling list to browse applications, a detailed view for applications, its screenshots and (questionable) user reviews (with excessive l33t-speak). A user can pay for their purchases from an account-tied credit card straight from the device and it downloads OTA. In addition to the general store, there is an operator-specific store if they wish to distribute operator-exclusive applications. The website can also be used to browse and purchase applications which are then automatically installed on your device.

For some reason, the video also promotes a full self-refund service for the applications you buy. I find it weird it was featured in this otherwise video at all, as if it was subtly acknowledging you’d want to refund many of your purchases.

On a related note, it’s also nice to see the Windows Mobile team is actively responding to feedback and even going as far as changing their app store developer program for the better.

59 insightful thoughts

  1. The ability to refund an application is a good feature of the marketplace – lest we forget about the “I Am Rich” debarkle. With the absence of a shareware “try-before-you-buy” model (at least, I haven’t heard of any infrastructure supporting this model), refunds give users an ability to temporary try an application and refund it if it doesn’t meet the users expectations.

    As I was typing this, I have thought that the new in-app purchase facility of iPhone OS 3.0 can support a “try-before-you-buy” model by releasing a limited feature version as free and in-app upgrade purchase to get a fully featured version of the application. This would resolve the multiple application versions (eg. iFart Free and iFart Pro) that currently plague the AppStore.

  2. @David: That is true. So I guess the message is that the software trial model is basically buy it then refund it in full if you don’t like it.

  3. good to hear they changed their application update policy.

    on a not so great note… who ever produced this add must have taken some “inspiration” during their last visit at their local Apple store. Just last week I saw an ad running on the screens behind the genius bar which looked strikingly similar to this promo.

    Mind you, probably doesn’t help that the WinMo apps store looks like a copy of the Apple app store… right down to the color scheme.

    Nice:
    – I assume under “my applications” I can re-download apps without having to sync to the desktop app.
    – Looks like Spore Origins is also heading to the a WinMO touch phone near you.

    Not so nice:
    – Operator store. I wonder if this is a place were you can buy poorly designed applications with little or no use at a premium price. Personally I always hated how badly telcos branded phone interfaces.

  4. @David, @Long Zheng,

    Sadly the “try-before-you-buy” model will not be allowed via the iPhone SDK 3.0. You for example won’t be able to create a 30 day trial version, distribute it via the store and then activate it via an in-app purchase. At least the current license agreement that comes with the SDK 3.0 won’t allow this type of feature.

    My guess is Apple is trying to avoid a flood so so application that tempt people to activate more features within the application by buying a “full version” only to find out their iFart “upgrade” simply adds another 5 different fart sounds.

    It’s actually more targeted at solutions like say an online magazine or ebook reader were you get the reader app for free and then purchase a subscription or specific book title via the application rather than the Apps store. I thin k this is actually a preferred option as it will in the long run work around problems were say publisher want to sell access to 10 years of back catalogue magazines but don’t wont to kill the app store by putting up 120 listings of essentially the same type of product.

  5. “I find it weird it was featured in this otherwise video at all, as if it was subtly acknowledging you’d want to refund many of your purchases.”

    Oh please, this is just clutching at straws to find something to criticize about it.

  6. @Fred: True, it is my criticism about this video, but isn’t it weird a piece of otherwise very positive and upbeat marketing material suddenly draws so much attention on “if things don’t work out”. It’s sort of like implying there *will* be things you will want to refund.

  7. @TheCyberKnight: There is no obvious benefit to using a Silverlight player over a Flash player to play a video on my blog right now :)

  8. “You do realise that Long likes Microsoft right?”

    What does that have to do with anything? Judging from the last couple of articles, he obviously doesn’t like Windows Mobile Marketplace.

    “isn’t it weird a piece of otherwise very positive and upbeat marketing material suddenly draws so much attention on “if things don’t work out”. It’s sort of like implying there *will* be things you will want to refund.”

    I think that’s open to mindset and interpretation, and from what it looks like to me your mindset is to find anything to criticize about Marketplace, however trivial. I, for instance, interpreted that as “It’s not about making profit, it’s about protecting consumers against bad purchases.”

    In your previous article, you yourself worried about how it looked like Marketplace was primarily about Microsoft making profit, and now that there’s a video touting a policy that is obviously not about making profit but more about customer service, you still try to find something negative to say about it rather than seeing, let alone mentioning the obvious positive aspect.

  9. @Fred: Much to the contrary actually. I’m a big fan of the Windows Mobile Marketplace. I’m a Windows Mobile user and the marketplace is just what the platform needs right now. However I have been dissapointed with the marketplace pricing model for developers in the last couple of weeks as more news comes out of it which is what my previous posts are about, but that’s not to say I’m not excited about it for users and developers. Microsoft has since changed that model in a big way as a result of feedback and it’s great news, and proves they do care about developers and consumers.

    I point out the negatives because, well, they’re negative and they need to be brought into the spotlight. It’s better to discuss them than to ignore them and hope for the better.

  10. Is Microsoft going to open up Windows Marketplace development using C# or C++ Express Edition? One thing I haven’t quite figured out yet is how much money they want in software before the $99 to develop and deploy for this.

  11. The thing is, is it really a negative? I sure don’t consider the refund policy a negative aspect, and as such I have no idea why it’s a bad idea to point it out in a video touting Marketplace’s advantages.
    And even if it is a negative, is it really worth bringing “that looks out of place in a promo video” to the spotlight? What is “discussing that instead of hoping for the better” going to achieve?

  12. @Fred: I did not say it was negative, I said it was weird. It stands out in the video, but of course it’s still a good feature for consumers.

  13. Making the refund policy a primary selling point should also increase the quality of apps and discourage misleading advertising.

  14. The refund has a 1 app a month limit. You can’t buy a bunch of apps and expect to refund half of them because you don’t like half of them.

Leave a Reply