The online store is now a key part of the smartphone platform value proposition. Microsoft's Marketplace, offering a range of software for Windows Mobile 6.x, has been up and running for eight months. Today, the company announced a new set of policies that will be used for the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.
As with Apple's App Store, Marketplace membership will cost developers $99 per year. For this, they will be able to submit an unlimited number of paid applications (with the same 70/30 split as the Apple store and existing Marketplace) and five free applications. Subsequent free applications will cost $19.99 to submit.
Unlike Apple's store, the Marketplace will also include a mechanism to allow time-limited trial modes. Marketplace applications will be able to use a range of business models: free, paid, ad-funded, and freemium (where basic functionality is free, and premium features are unlocked for a fee).
Also published are the application certification requirements that applications must meet to be allowed in the Marketplace. Just as with the Windows Mobile Marketplace, no porn or sexually suggestive content is allowed. Microsoft is clearly seeking to avoid the controversy that Apple faced when it yanked porn from the store.
Microsoft still hasn't committed to offering any alternative way of loading applications. Businesses wanting their own privately developed, privately deployed software will still have to go via Marketplace. Their programs will still be private, but as things stand, there won't be any mechanism for cutting out the middleman.
Though not as liberal as we would like, the rules don't contain too many surprises. A few requirements are irksome—for example, applications are allowed to offer premium (paid) music services, but if they do, they must also offer sales via the music Marketplace—but it's no real shock that Redmond is playing it safe when it comes to porn and violence.
What is interesting is the application submission policy. The current Marketplace charges $99 for any application submission, which is a stark contrast with competing application stores. The new rules are a lot more competitive, but developers will still end up paying if they wish to submit more than five free applications.
Though there are understandable reasons for this—it will discourage mass submissions of junk applications—it's still surprising that Microsoft would choose to erect this barrier, given the company's relatively weak position within the market. Free applications may also have less of a role on Marketplace. Many of the free programs on Apple's store are just cut-down versions of other, paid applications; with Marketplace's built-in support of trials and freemium software, these free programs might not be necessary anyway.
Source: ars technica