Donnie Vash – “Nineteen” EP

Donnie Vash (part of The Lazaretto Crew) dropped a new EP sponsored by Hustlemill this week.  Dope.  Check it out.  (Hit the link to download)

He’ll on this weeks Beneath the Beat on WKNC 88.1FM in Raleigh, NC.  I’ll be up there putting the greatest mixshow ever on.  Definately tune into that.  Shouts go to DJ Statik, Zay, Dub, and DJ Wise.

Windows Marketplace for Mobile [Rant]

Alright, after having several interactions (software certifications, questions, etc.) with the crew in charge of Microsoft’s mobile application store, I have a couple of criticisms (constructive).  Warning: I am not a writer, I am an engineer, so please excuse my improper grammar 😀

Windows Marketplace for Mobile is fragmented

The Windows Marketplace for Mobile is available in 41 countries.  Each country is then broken up into 2 platforms (Professional (touch-screen) and Standard).  This makes for 81 markets you can submit applications to.  This is leading to a very fragmented marketplace experience, which is frustrating for developers and customers.  What’s worse is, to submit to another platform or market (country), it costs $99 per submission, which is marketed as a testers fee.  More on this below.  There are markets (US) with 600+ available apps and other markets only have a handful.

While I appreciate the convenience of having an on device marketplace where customers and download apps, I don’t think their is enough volume throughout the entire marketplace to justify the fragmentation.

I’m not sure how things workout for the Android, iPhone, or BlackBerry software application stores, but I have a feeling things are simpler.  This is why I sell the application on my site and Handango, so I can somewhat target other regions of the world.

High Development Costs

The $99 fee Microsoft charges for access to the program is on-par with the iPhone Developer program.  The fee for Android developers is actually a lot lower ($25) which is great actually.  Where Microsoft differs is the $99 annual fee to remain enrolled in the program AND $99 for each major release (ie. 1.X -> 2.0 or submitting an entirely new product or submitting an existing product to a new market or platform).  Microsoft also takes 30% of revenue from application sales.

I agree with all the costs, besides the annual fee and the fee for every new application submission.  While Speeed Reader is popular is selling relatively well (thanks!), it’s not cost effective to submit it to other markets when I can sell the application myself or through Handango (which is completely free, besides the 40% cut they take).

I thin the solution is to combine as many markets as possible so developers can target the largest group of customers for the least amount of money.  Also, more customers will be able to experience a greater variety of applications than the current choices.

Certification Testers Lack Detail (or did)

My experience with the certification process started out on a bad note.  It took 4 submissions to my application into the marketplace.  The 1st submission (Dec. 15th) was my fault, a crash 😛 .  However, the resulting exchange was mildly frustrating.    The feedback received was along the lines of “The application crashed”.  I was also given some generic test requirements which did not help me diagnose the crash.  So I fired off an email to the test group for an explanation.  4.5 days later, I get a response that included my own crash handling error message.  Not helpful at all.  What would have been helpful (logs, stack trace, steps leading to the crash, etc.).

I did end up getting the application accepted (after 3 more submissions).  The reason why? Some of the testers overlooked some prequisite testing configuration that is vital when testing Windows Mobile application.  I’m not going to go into details there.  One failed submission was having a in programs status message being interpreted as a fatal error.  That could go either way (their fault or my fault).  Finally on January 15 (exactly on month after my first submission) Speeed Reader was accepted into the US marketplace.  The encouraging thing was the turnaround time for a response from a tester decreased.  However, the level of detail on the first response did not.

Microsoft’s mobile certification testers should send a semi-detailed report with every failure.  This would have saved me at least a week of time.

The points I am making here aren’t preventing me from continuing to develop Windows Mobile applications.  They are extremely frustrating though.  Honestly, I don’t see things taking off until the release of Windows Mobile 7.  Hopefully by that time, Microsoft has a better handle on its platform and software ecosystem.  Microsoft and Windows Mobile 7 not only has to fight for users, but developers as well!