Paid Apps in the Windows Phone 7 environment

 

salepricingwrong

 

You’re doing it wrong.  This has been an internet meme for a while, and applies directly to the problem with paid apps, in particular, those in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.  I’m hoping they don’t continue down this exact path when Windows 8 launches with its embedded app store.

 

The problem isn’t that the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has a larger ratio of “paid apps” to “free apps” than iTunes or the Android Market – the problems is what those apps are.  I don’t mind paying for apps, good apps in particular.  Use a pro version instead of a lite version, pay for the developer’s time.  Just imagine if they developed that app just for you, would you only feel compelled to give them a $1.99?  No!  It’s worth way more than that! You’re the one getting the bargain, so why not pay?  Particularly, when the app is “worth it.”

 

What makes an App “worth it” is subjective.  Very subjective.  But I can tell you one of the things that, I feel, is not worth it, which is what I’m seeing a lot of in Windows Phone 7.  RSS Feeds.  If I want news from one of my favorite websites, I can go to that website and read it all day long.  As we all know, the overwhelming majority of sites on the internet are not behind pay walls.  This is the reality for content producers, and they’ve been struggling with ways to make money ever since.  With the new ecosystem of Windows Phone 7, came the chance to lay down the corrective law and start turning a profit for the hard work developing apps. But the problem isn’t going to be solved by charging a dollar for your app, which has the same content as your website.

 

True, not every website is optimized for mobile browsing, and an app would be nice.  But let’s be frank, why would you spend a dollar to read something you have been and will continue to read for free?  There needs to be a proven value in your application, that goes above and beyond.  Exclusive articles are hard to sell, people get touchy and will leave your website because they think you’re holding out on them – even though they’re not paying a dime.  Still, perhaps the best solution might be offering some form of exclusive benefit, like industry interviews with people in your field, things that are going above and beyond that typical news articles.  If you can get those interviews.

 

I don’t have the perfect solution, but I do have good news.  From what I’ve seen, again, in particular on the WP7 Marketplace, it looks like a lot of the people trying to charge for what is little more than an RSS feed, are just people trying to make a buck off of others’ hard work.  The developer is usually not affiliated with the actual website at all, and just popped and RSS feed reading app together with the RSS feed of a popular website, and is trying to pass it off as an app.  I imagine many people are not getting suckered and I hope few are being sold, especially in cases like this.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see developers actually concentrate on making better decisions when they do decide to put their content on a mobile platform.  Ad-Supported apps don’t bother me a bit, but when I do pay for an app, I expect at least something out of it, more than just saving me the time of typing a URL – and the good news is, I think the people managing their own brands and websites know that.

It's 2012… Prediction Time!

I predict this year will be better for me than any other in my life. I’m making the time to make things happen. I have more time than I act like I do, it’s time to do something with it. That’s my resolution for 2012!

Now then, before the world ends, here’s what I’m expecting, good and bad, for 2012.

Consoles:

  • The PlayStation 3 wanted to last longer than any of the others, but it’s delayed release will crush the dreams of a 10 year console life cycle – they don’t want to be seen as lagging behind, so they will unveil details at E3 of the PlayStation 4.
  • The “Next Xbox” will be unveiled at E3, and in a surprise move it’ll be announced for this holiday season. While I agree with many industry experts, it feels a year too early, it’s never too early to make money.
  • The “Next Xbox” will be named Xbox 365. This meshes with the branding already in place of other Microsoft Products. Office Live, which stemmed from Xbox Live and Live Search, merged with Business Productivity Online Suite and became OFfice 365. The next Xbox will follow the branding change and be called Xbox 365.
  • The Wii U specs will be released at E3, with a holiday 2012 release date as well. I think this is more likely than the “Xbox 365” (again, my predicted name) being available this year, as Nintendo really needs to prove its use to the “core” gamers if they want to keep selling. The millions who adopted the Wii and made the silly name a household must-have aren’t going to upgrade their console for more Wii Sports sequels.
  • The handheld gaming market will be dominated by the 3DS, with devices like the Windows Phone 7/8 and Android/iPads featuring OnLive gaining in acceptance.

Computing:

  • Windows 8 will not see the same mass adoption that Windows 7 has. It will be popular enough among the tech community to be worth upgrading to, but it will fail to impress the mass audience and will also fail on tablets (to my own chagrin).
  • Companies will release wrist-watch sized Android based devices, but they will not gain large acceptance.
  • Paying for goods with your cell phone via some form of NFC will gain wide-spread acceptance commercially, but not with the average home user. You’ll be able to use it, but you mostly won’t.
  • Your grandma still won’t want an e-reader, but your mom will ask more questions than last year.
  • HTML5 (and HTML in general) will be setting the new standard, flash sites will fizzle, and SilverLight will still only be used by Microsoft and MSNBC partnered sites!

Entertainment:

  • Sorry, but Steam Punk will become as common place as glittery vampires. It’s already begun, with the recent Justin Bieber video.
  • ChipTune music, a personal favorite of mine, will emerge with one or more pop songs, and grow in popularity at dance clubs – but people will just think it’s a quaint new fad, not something we’ve been enjoying for years! (If your girlfriend made you watch the latest episode of 90210, and you saw ‘the runway scene’ you’ll know this to be coming true, as well).
  • A new service, likely run by an existing entity, will emerge to directly compete with Netflix (here’s looking at you, Amazon and RedBox).

I wish I had more for you, but I’m all tapped out. All I know is that this is going to be an exciting year, and we’re all going through it together. So stay tuned, stay active, and keep the comments coming!

Greed in Gaming – why I'm worried

The prices of games don’t worry me, let’s get that out of the way. I like where they’re at right now. I can stand the price points, if I have to, and I’m always glad to see that consoles are being revised, but prices are still coming down. Very exciting.

I also think that the PlayStation Network trying to get everyone to go with the PlayStation Plus membership is understandable. Having an infrastructure the size of the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live isn’t free.

BUT PC gaming was always free!!! Yes, and PC Gaming has always been decentralized. Even at the end of life for most games, a patch would be released that would allow people to host their own switching servers that would list all of the game servers. These things don’t happen much any more (anybody seen any Matrix Online sandbox servers?), but more importantly: this doesn’t happen in console games.

You see, I’m not writing because games are too expensive, or the online services are – but this attempt to make a buck by making us register to play your game online? This worries me. Not just because of the price, but because of the problems that these greedy publishers are causing in the long term.

Earlier this week, I awoke and wanted to play some more of the single player races in Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. I was connected to Xbox Live, but I was not connected to NFS’s “autolog” server, it appeared to be down. Maybe there was an issue with my modem or router or something else, but it shouldn’t matter. I’m on Xbox Live, I’m on the internet – I should NEED to be VERIFIED by your server, just to play the game that I purchased, particularly if I want to play it offline!

These new off-site servers have been a fear of mine as long as online gaming and DRM has existed. Nobody likes it, but they keep pushing it on us, to protect their product. Here’s the thing: Microsoft protects your product via Xbox Live. Leave me alone. I don’t need another middle-man.

Season Pass for EA Sports games. Call of Duty Elite. Autolog for Need for Speed. Mortal Kombat’s Kombat Pass. These are all ways that the developers want to make an extra buck. So far they have “graciously” included the services with retail copies of the game, but as demonstrated in my experience with Autolog – membership or not, it doesn’t matter… if the service is inaccessible, so is your game – even if you just want to play locally.

The other games may not follow the same “authentication first” formula, but all of these little middleman services worry me, and they’re all in an effort to reduce piracy, and make a few dollars from the used games industry, which, in my opinion, is solely motivated by greed.