When it comes to selling things — be it apps, t-shirts, or clumps of hair — you’ve gotta be able to monitor sales. You’ve have to know what’s working, what’s not, and most importantly, whether or not your efforts are going to put bread on the table next month.
It was a bit surprising, then, that Windows Phone 7′s app market launched without any sort of sales monitoring tools. Since its European launch back in mid-October, most WP7 developers have sort of been in the dark as to how their applications were doing.
Fortunately, Microsoft is doing away with this rather nasty hang-up; as of this morning, developers are getting their first look at how their apps have been performing over the past few months.
Like Apple’s iTunes connect or Google’s Android Developer Console, Windows Phone 7 has a centralized location called App Hub for developers to submit apps, manage account details, and request support. This morning, App Hub gained a new “Reports” tab, wherein developers can generate sales reports based on any time frame since launch, drilled down to any country with access to the Windows Phone 7 market.
So, now, the big question: how are Windows Phone 7 apps selling?
They seem to be… a bit low (as you might expect, given that WP7 is a new platform and they’ve really yet to find their footing.) There are only a handful of developers that have applications on all of the major smartphone platforms right now — and an even smaller number of those were willing to spill the beans on things like sales numbers. I was able to track down two different development teams who were willing to shed some insight (both requested to remain anonymous); one just said they were “a bit underwhelmed by their first reports”, while the other got a bit more in depth:
For me, right now sales seem about 1/8 of what they are on Blackberry’s app world, 1/30 of Android sales, and less than 1/100 of iPhone sales.
To be clear: no one is expecting Windows Phone 7 application sales to be reaching anything close to that of the competition at this point; the rest have all had months or years to ramp up their momentum, and have large enough user bases that word-of-mouth alone can help to drive App sales.
With that said, Microsoft needs to find something to give developers a reason to build on their platform. iOS has the massive sales numbers and the simplicity inherent to only being on three devices. Android has its momentous growth, gigantic numbers, and open market mentality. BlackBerry OS has a dedicated fan-base, and at the very least has an enterprise market to cater too. Palm’s App Catalog didn’t have any of these things — and a year and a half after launch, it’s still floundering. It’s time to find your thing, Microsoft.
In better news: After originally announcing that they wouldn’t be able to pay developers until sometime in February, Microsoft today announced that they’ll instead be able to start sending out checks in the fourth week of January.