marketplace

If you're on Orange, some good news for you. They have opened up a new gateway for all your app, game and music purchases in the Windows Phone Marketplace. You can now choose between your account credit card and your Orange phone bill. 

While this is a fantastic new way to easily populate your internal storage, we recommend caution - try not to go overboard or you'll receive a nasty surprise at the end of your contracted month. Are you on Orange, and are you interested in using your monthly bill to pay for apps etc.?

Source: MyKindofPhone

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As many of you probably remember, the Windows Phone Marketplace was down for a quite a few hours yesterday, resulting in an error message ‘Can't get this info right now. Check back in a little while.’, It was quite frustrating for a lot of us, but alas, these things happen. Microsoft quickly caught wind of the downage and claimed to be working on it and sure enough, within a few hours everything was peachy.

The odd part, confirmed by Chris Walsh of Chevron, was that it only had an effect on NoDo devices.

This morning, Microsoft updated their blog post with the following explanation as to the ultimate cause:

"The problem was the result of scheduled maintenance being performed on Microsoft’s infrastructure during the night. The root cause of this issue has been identified and steps are being taken to help prevent future disruptions to the Marketplace service.”

So bumps in the road but it looks like it won't be happening again, at least from this identified "root cause".

Source: Windows Phone Blog

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Users around the globe are reporting, and we have confirmed, that the Windows Phone Marketplace is unavailable.  It's been hours now, and users from the US to the UK are unable to download apps or update apps that are already installed.  Early on it was believed that all users were affected equally, but many people are reporting that it only applies to NoDo phones (version 7930 and above).  The outage also appears to apply to Zune Pass.

Microsoft is aware of the issue but has yet to comment on it.  With all of the prior woes associated with NoDo, this is just what Microsoft doesn't need.  We will keep you posted as more information comes to light.

Hey, WPCentral users, what's happening amongst the rank and file?

Source: WinRumors Thanks Peter for the tip!

Update: It appears the Marketplace is back in action.  We just got a few update notifications that were processed without problem.  We aren't sure the Marketplace is up across the board but progress is being made to resolve the issue.

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Official Evernote Coming Soon

In a recent podcast, the Evernote team talks about their application for Windows Phone 7, which has been somewhat neglected by talks or any information available. You can listen to the podcast on the official blog, the goodies for WP7 are located at approximately 39 min 40 seconds in. The basic gist is that the application is almost ready and should be in the Marketplace soon.

That's good news since the last we heard from the Evernote guys was that this app was due "this Winter" meaning 2010-2011 Winter. So obviously they're a whole season behind. C'mon guys...

Source: Evernote Podcast; via: WPSauce

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Although boasting about the size of one's app store has its place--really it's the quality of the apps that matter and nothing beats those "big titles" that people want and use.

PCWorld has done an interesting analysis of Apple's top 35 apps to see how the other platforms compare. Android, comes the closest, offering all but 3 of the top 35 apps on the iPhone. Their biggest gap of course is in games--something we've pointed out before. Next, however is Windows Phone 7 which offers all but 8 of the top 35--beating out Symbian and Blackberry (guess WebOS wasn't worth looking at). That's not too shabby for the new guy in town who's been in the market a little less than seven months.

Part of the difference is Microsoft has been very aggressive in courting Apple developers to either switch or port over their apps, often offering financial incentive to do so e.g. covering the cost of development. Combined with the Xbox LIVE gaming system and their relationship with the "big" developers there, Microsoft has made tremendous in-roads into taking away any "exclusive" app that the iPhone may offer (and more often than not, the Windows Phone version looks better).

We may not have the numbers, but we have the apps.

Related story: Beating Apple's exclusivity: How Microsoft caters to developers while Google does not

Source: PCWorld/Yahoo News; Thanks, hd7guy, for the heads up

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One more tid bit from MIX11 for the day.  Mango is expected to bring a few more options to Windows Phone 7 developers with regards to distribution options and will require game ratings.

Private Betas and Private Apps will join the Public Distribution options for developers. Private Betas will not require certification but will require user registration by the developer by way of the user's Windows Live ID (limited to 100). Private Betas will have a life cycle of 90 days and should help developers iron out all the bugs before releasing the app for Public Distribution.

Private Apps will need to go through the certification process and will not be searchable in the Marketplace. Developers will distribute these apps via a deep link to allow recipients to download the app. This distribution will be well suited for enterprise/corporate applications.

Marketplace games will also require a rating and certification of those ratings if it's required by the region of distribution. This should open the door for gaming titles where concerns about mature content are present (remember Twin Blades). This would also suggest that parental controls will be present in the Marketplace as well.

via: mobilitydigest

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Amist all the incredible announcements made at MIX'11 yesterday, one that caught everyone's eye through continuous demand and request was the amount of new countries where developers can register in the Marketplace. The above image shows all the current countries in green, with the added 8 in yellow, which include:

  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • India
  • South Africa
  • South Korea

Superb news for developers who reside in the above, especially if you're experiencing issues when attempting to connect to the Marketplace etc. Are you affected by the above inclusion?

Source: WindowsPhoneGeek

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Due to the over-powering excitement surrounding Windows Phone 7 (and not too long after the UK Hackathons), there are two competitions being ran, both student only and an incentive programme that is open for all (within the UK it seems). If you're lucky enough to be a student, you are allowed to enter both programmes with the same WP7 app - pretty neat.

To enter the student competition, all that is required of you is to successfully publish an app in the WP7 Marketplace, email ukstucom@microsoft.com with your publisher name, app title coupled with a screenshot and they do the rest. Requires almost no effort on your part. Should you win this competition, you could find yourself claiming a Microsoft LifeCam Show and/or Windows Phone 7 t-shirts in each round of the competition (six rounds total), while one of the six winners (one from each round) will win the grand prize of a HTC 7 trophy! But wait, there's more...

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WinRumors has reported on some interesting news that Microsoft may be planning to announce intentions to bring Silverlight to the Xbox 360 platform, and look set to display their plans at the MIX11 conference, which is in Las Vegas next week. 

With both Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360 already sporting XNA, their connection would be improved heavily with the addition of Silverlight. Being Microsoft's alternative to Adobe's Flash (and a damn good one too), Silverlight could open up a new app Marketplace for the gaming console, a source (who wishes to remain anonymous) suggests. Windows Phone 7 developers could be greeted with a gateway to over 50 million users who could potentially become active customers and use their apps.

WinRumors has claimed that Microsoft plans to include a new application model (codenamed "Jupiter") that will allow developers to create and develop applications on Silverlight, deployed as AppX packages (.appx) which will be part of an introduced application store in Windows 8. This could well be Microsoft's answer to Apple's App Store, which is available on both OS X and iOS. Angry Birds on the 360 as well as more Xbox 360 and WP7 integrated games like Fable Coin Golf. Ah, the possibilities!

Source: WinRumors

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One of our readers, Kibosh, has posted on our forum that he seems to be experiencing some issues with language in the Marketplace. Being fluent in Dutch (with good English), he has trouble browsing and - in rare cases - using apps on his device due to the Marketplace being displayed in French.

I'm a Dutch speaking Belgium guy owning a nice HTC Mozart and I'm happy with it. Only there is one major thing wrong with it and that is that the marketplace displays French. There are some more smaller things, but this language issue is for me very annoying.

Because not many people know Belgium (I guess), there are three official languages. Dutch (Me), French and a small part German. For some reason, Microsoft decided to offer the marketplace only in French for Belgium. I can assure you that they made a big mistake. We, the Flemish, speak better English then French. Also there are 6,200,000 Flemish and 3,500,000 French. You can do the math. Consider also the fact that Belgium is going through a political crisis about French vs Flemish and you can see the size of the error.

As one could imagine, this is frustrating for Kibosh and he posted a reply to a Microsoft Answers thread covering language issues on Windows Mobile. Doing some searching, we managed to come across a similar scenario where someone from Switzerland had to browse the Marketplace in German. A few replies later and a solution was posted for a new Live ID and Zune account to be created (with correct settings to force English or a desired language), coupled with resetting the device to attach the new accounts.

Seems a bit much work to change the language, hopefully Microsoft will work on a feature that allows one to alter their language across their Live ID, Zune account and device with one selection. Have you had any trouble with the wrong language being displayed in the Marketplace?

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One big complaint we hear over and over from devs is how to get their app featured in the Marketplace--you know, one of the apps listed in when you launch the store, sometimes it has a nifty panorama, or the app is feature on Microsoft's site, etc. To have your app up there, especially for indie devs, is huuuge as it gives much attention to their work and in turn, well, more revenue. 

Microsoft just announced the oddly titled 'Spring cleaning project' which is a contest of sorts to allow devs a shot at getting their app featured. Up till now, the process has been mostly unknown and there were no known methods of getting MS's attention to consider your app. Now, with this contest, devs can basically contact Microsoft and tell 'em why their app meets the three requirements:

  1. There will be three different opportunities: April, May, and June 2011
  2. Your App must be published to the Windows Phone Marketplace by the 15th of each month (by 11:59 PM PST)
  3. Your App must work as promised
  4. Your App must be new to the Marketplace or be a new version with substantial, new features or capabilities as mentioned earlier
  5. You then email the following information to wp7springclean@microsoft.com:

We'll post the rest after the break, but this should be a big hit with indie devs and we're hoping some of our favorites get featured.

Update: To clarify, games do count too--but since pivot/panorama don't apply, other criteria will e.g. use of a Live tile or push notification. In other words, be creative! (Thanks, Ben Lower, from Microsoft for the clarification)

Source: Windows Phone Marketplace Developer Communication

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In what looks like a big move for Microsoft, they have finally launched their Zune Marketplace in India, opening a potentially huge market to Windows Phone.

Windows Phone Sauce (who we are gathering are based in India) have been able to confirm that the Marketplace is live and kicking, accepting payments in Rupees (see screenshot above). Microsoft themselves have not made any official announcement, so this still may be a soft launch for the marketplace as they test the waters, so to speak.

Either way, this is a good sign as this may be the beginning of Microsoft's larger push into regions not previously covered by Windows Phone. Currently, the HTC HD7 and Dell Venue Pro are being sold in India, even though MS didn't officially offer any support there, until today that is.

Source: Windows Phone Sauce

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While we await Microsoft's solution to the Hombrew community, something that will take a bit of a hit with NoDo (since ChevronWP7 won't work with it), developers are still going forward, regardless.

Over at XDA, developer kuerbis2 has laid the groundwork for a Homebrew Marketplace by releasing a new XAP installer and even more importantly, a protocol handler (like the “zune:”-URLs) called "wphome". That last bit sort of huge as it allows people to "register" their homebrew XAP files, thereby creating hyperlinks to allow easy distribution/installation of said files. The features so far are summarized as follows:

  • In-place update on the phone: In-place update on the phone, e.g. if you already have Version 1.0.0.0 of an app installed on the phone and install 1.0.2.0 an in-place update will performed. No more full "uninstall-new install" cycle required. Your settings, custom files etc. won't be removed (same as marketplace update)
  • Deploy from file or URL: You can either specify a file or an URL. If you enter an URL the installer will automatically download the xap.
  • Own protocol "wphome": Zune's one-click download for homebrew apps. Automatically install homebrew XAPs with a click on a hyperlink. If you want, you can register the application for the wphome protocol. The application will then be allowed to handle urls like wphome:www.test.com/test.xap and will automatically start as soon as you click on such a link

Like we said, this is pretty big news as no one has gone this far in creating a framework for a homebrew marketplace. If enough devs adopt this protocol (and we see little reason why they should not), then we'll have a standard for distribution, as opposed to just attachments in a forum. Of course, people still need a way to side-load applications i.e. developer unlocked without paying $99 a year--for that we'll have to wait for Microsoft to provide a solution, otherwise the homebrew community will be forever niche. Stay tuned for more...

Source: XDA; Thanks, Tobias, for the tip!

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Official XDA app is here

After 7 months of development, XDA's official app for Windows Phone 7 is here.  It is equipped with Toast notifications and Live Tile support, so you can receive real-time PM notifications.  Sporting the Metro user interface, the XDA app let's users:

  • View forums
  • Send/receive PMs
  • Subscribe to forum
  • Read and respond to posts
  • Check news from the Portal

Download it here for $0.99.

Source: XDA; Via: MobilityDigest

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Changes to Nodo's Changelog?

Last week we shared the changelog for the Windows Phone 7 "Nodo" update that came from Microsoft's support page. Along with copy/paste, faster apps and games and other improvements, the changelog noted Marketplace improvements that included "using a credit card with an address outside the United States".

Not sure when it happened but apparently Microsoft has changed the changelog to omit the "using a credit card with an address outside the United States" portion of the Marketplace improvements.

So why the change to the changelog?  Windows Phone Support via tweet has noted the improvement note was "referring to an issue that U.S. customers had when using a different language/region format on their phones."  The verbage was removed to avoid confusion.  Yet it still seems very confusing.

Source: windowsphonesauce Thanks to wp7fanboi for the tip!

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Kinabalu Innovation Limited has informed us that SurfCube is making the move to being ad supported, starting with version 2.5.  The trial version will no longer be capped at 20 uses, but will display a small advertisement.  Anyone who purchases the 3D browser will be able to use it free of ads.

Due to popular demand, SurfCube 2.5 will also include the ability to save JPEGs directly to the phone.  The people spoke and Kinabalu listened.

If you want to check out SurfCube Free 2.5 you can get it here.

The full paid version ($1.99) can be found here.

Source: Kinabalu Innovation Limited

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Since the HTC Arrive on Sprint comes with 'NoDo' built in, we've been obviously testing what has/has not changed. And although we know it has copy/paste, refined Marketplace search and performance enhancements, one other little thing we noticed is fixed: the Marketplace app update bug.

If you recall, we did a video ("Tip: Force an app update in the Windows Phone Marketplace") showing how when a new update is available for an app you have installed, sometimes there's a delay with the Marketplace reflecting that. So you would navigate over to see the new version listed but no way to update it manually. The trick was to hit the back button, then go back to the app description and then you would see the "update" option (just watch the video).

Long story short, 'NoDo' fixes that so the first time you go to the updated application in the Marketplace, it shows "Update", making one less step in the process. Revolutionary? Game shifting? Hardly. But it's attention to the details that matters in making a good OS, so we're glad to see it.

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Today, the Windows Phone Marketplace, just four and a half months after launch, hit 10,000 apps making it the fastest growing smartphone app market yet--beating out the iPhone and Android in terms of rate-of-growth. Currently, the Windows Phone Marketplace adds about 100 apps a day with an average price of $2.10 and that growth rate seems to be slightly increasing as of late. By comparison, the iPhone was adding 70 apps a day when it hit 10K--a feat that took Apple 142 days with an average app price of $3.50.

At the current rate of growth, Windows Phone should expect to overtake #3 RIM's market within the next six months. Currently, Blackberry users have about 20,000 apps available--but they launched in April, 2009 and were only adding about 900 apps a month. By comparison, Windows Phone is adding nearly 3,000 apps per month, crushing RIM.

While we can of course debate whether all 10,000 apps are worthy of mention, we think it's a great sign that nearly six months out, Windows Phone developers are pumping out as much if not more apps today than they were at the beginning--meaning this wasn't a temporary surge, but a consistent commitment and interest.

Flashback: Marketplace hits 1,000 apps (Oct 23, 2010); Marketplace hits 5,000 apps (Dec. 28th, 2010)

[Of course, with all big news there is a down side: we mentioned how after 10K we will be retiring the 1K marks every few weeks and instead will hit the next 5K. So we'll see the "awww yeah guy" in a few months from now.]

Source: Windows Phone Applist, Seeking Alpha (for RIM info), WP7Applist, In Numero

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As you may or may not know, Micorsoft has a website called AppHub where developers can register to submit apps/games and get paid.  AppHub registration is also required for developers to obtain certificates to test their programs on actual hardware, rather than just emulators.  This is all fine and good, unless you live in one of the countries where site registration is unavailable...like say, every country in the Middle East. 

Microsoft announced yesterday at the Dubai Tech-Ed that they have remedied the problem, not by opening AppHub up to the Middle East, but by requiring devs to submit programs through a company called YallaApps.  As if this slap in the face were not enough, the site includes this little tidbit:

How will my application be displayed in the Windows Phone Marketplace?
The product description of your application will include the following sentence: Brought to you by Yalla Apps on behalf of [Your Developer Name].

Basically, if Mid-East devs want to submit their goods, they have to allow them to be registered under another company's name.  To add injury to insult, YallaApps' parent company, Prototype Interactive, is also in the application development business.  So not only do apps submitted this way get credited to YallaApps, they are then under the control of a competitor.  Holy Conflict of Interest, Batman!

Source: Microsoft AppHub, MicrosoftFeed ; Via: TheNextWeb

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Today on the Windows Phone Developer Blog, Todd Brix, a senior director on Windows Phone, gives an update to the development community. One of the more interesting things that was looked at was user's response to having the trial option available when browsing for new apps in the Marketplace.

We've always taken the position here that trials are good and that developer's who don't offer a trial, risk losing significant new customers. As it turns out, we were right on that. From the Blog:

  • Users like trials. Paid apps that include trial functionality are downloaded 70 times more than paid apps that don’t include trial functionality, expanding the number of potential customers to purchase the full paid version.
  • Trials result in higher sales. Nearly 1 out of 10 trial apps downloaded convert to a purchase and
  • generate 10 times more revenue, on average, than paid apps that don’t include trial functionality.
  • Trial downloads convert to paid downloads quickly. More than half of trial downloads that convert to a sale do so within one day, and most of those within 2 hours.

We hope devs take note of those numbers and take the extra time to implement the Trial API that Microsoft has made available. As consumers, we know that we're just more likely to try your app if it has a trial--devs, don't miss out on an opportunity.

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