Microsoft paying up to $600,000 for Windows Phone apps

Microsoft is still trying to expand the number of apps available to purchase and download on the Windows Phone Marketplace. Now it seems like the company is willing to fund the development of some third party apps for the mobile OS. According to a New York Times article, Microsoft has financed the creation of Windows Phone apps for companies such as Foursquare and the Cheezeburger Network.

The article says that, according to app developers, it would normally cost between $60,000 to $600,000 to fund the making of a Windows Phone app on their own. Indeed, Foursquare's head of business development Holger Luedorf admits that the company would have likely not have made a Windows Phone app for their services without Microsoft's monetary assistance.

For example, Facebook did not actually make its own official Windows Phone app. The development team that did create the app was funded by Microsoft. Facebook certified the app before it was released.

For its part, a Microsoft rep admitted that it has offered "incentives" to Windows Phone developers but would not officially name any third party apps that Microsoft has funded on its own. The company also offers some app developers free phones for development along with promises of having some choice spots in Windows Phone Marketplace and being included in Windows Phone advertising.

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I have a better option for Microsoft.
It will boost marketshare and convince developers to come over on their own.

Pay the app developers on behalf of the consumers who switch from competing platforms.
Offer to pay developers the app price for each Windows Phone convert.

With every Windows Phone sold, there will be a coupon or code that can be redeemed which will pull your Market or Store purchases and prepare a download queue for the Windows Phone.

All apps within that initial download queue will be free for the customer for switching to their new Windows Phone. Microsoft will credit each developer their normal purchase price.

In instances where the app doesn't exist because the developer hasn't made the commitment, Microsoft's top pick competing app will be downloaded for trial with an option to buy.
For every trial app that's converted to paid, Microsoft will pay those developers as well.

So, port your app, or have the #1 replacement get your revenue.

For its part, a Microsoft rep admitted that it has offered "incentives" to Windows Phone developers...

Eh, Microsoft have done a number of public developer incentive programs in the UK. For all my development work I've gotten an HD TV, Surround sound system, and Xbox, and a Lumia 800

Quite a number of the official "big apps" like eBay, Twitter, Facebook, last.FM, IMDB, British Airways, etc are made by consultancy companies, usually paid for by Microsoft. Now usually I don't have a problem with this and actually getting apps out of them and onto the marketplace- but the big problem is that because they're not being made by their actual brand companies that have a vested interest in them - updates are few and thin between, and there's no passion in making the apps to ensure a fantastic experience for their customers and their brands. Because, they're not making it, it's just another company with a deadline getting paid to do it, and after they've shipped off with the code they don't care about doing any updates unless they get paid for it again. That company doesn't mind much, tey just need to make sure the apps ticks off enough boxed and ship it out the door and collect their money.

Hence for example, you see nearly all the third party Twitter apps come out better than the first party (the third party developers actually have a bit of passion for it rather than the random consultancy company that made the official), 4th & Mayor beats the Formspring client silly, etc. It's nice that they're actually chucking money at it to get the apps made, but they really need to make sure they're paying the right people to do it - people who actually have a passion for the OS and that brand, and have a personal interest in seeing it succeed.

Edited by ~Johnny, Apr 6 2012, 7:33pm :

Foursquare's head of business development Holger Luedorf admits that the company would have likely not have made a Windows Phone app for their services without Microsoft's monetary assistance

OK. So how did Jeff Wilcox make 4th and Mayor, which is generally accepted to be better than the official app? Did it cost him tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars?

WP8 cannot come out fast enough with its supposed support for native development. Then, apps can be quickly ported (most likely low quality at first), and then quickly adapted to really gain the OS support.

spudtrooper said,
These costs seem artificial and quite high. Wp7 is easy to develop for and porting costs shouldn't be anywhere near 600k.

Sure, but we would like good quality apps, not just an app that the developer throw in the wind and hope that someone will buy them. Forget about Angry Birds, Pandora, etc.
I am hoping Adobe Photoshop for Windows Phone and Tablet, Instagram, WebMD,Zipcar , etc.

Svggarden said,

Sure, but we would like good quality apps, not just an app that the developer throw in the wind and hope that someone will buy them. Forget about Angry Birds, Pandora, etc.
I am hoping Adobe Photoshop for Windows Phone and Tablet, Instagram, WebMD,Zipcar , etc.

Even then,the app is the easy part.. Its the backend stuff that gets expensive and difficult. Porting code isn't reinventing the wheel, just making the wheel for a different car.

If iOS, Android and Windows Phone have the same apps, what is stopping your average user going with the bigger name smartphone? Microsoft really needs to provide more exclusive apps on its platform. Can you imagine having a really high quality game like Halo on Windows Phone? Halo has the name and the Microsoft exclusive that can drive people to their platform. It worked for their Xbox, now they need to use the lessons learned with the Xbox onto the Windows Phone platform.

For now, this is a good short term goal but they need more exclusive content to ensure their success for the future. Just my two cents.

I've been a developer on the Foursquare app team and I don't work for Foursquare or Microsoft, so yeah MS paid for it.
Even if Microsoft don't want to tell which apps have been funded, you can find some of them (for example in the Foursquare app just go in the Me pano, then settings, then at the end of the about pivot).

Now, I know that a lot of companies pay by their own for a Windows Phone app.

Skyounet said,
I've been a developer on the Foursquare app team and I don't work for Foursquare or Microsoft, so yeah MS paid for it.
Even if Microsoft don't want to tell which apps have been funded, you can find some of them (for example in the Foursquare app just go in the Me pano, then settings, then at the end of the about pivot).

Now, I know that a lot of companies pay by their own for a Windows Phone app.

Yeah that was uncovered by the NY Times article, they are now assuming that they payed Rovio to get Angry Birds Space in the Windows Phone platform. time will tell if that is also true.

Now if they would just throw some money in Dropbox' direction... But they probably won't with all their promoting SkyDrive and what not...

Kwanza said,
Now if they would just throw some money in Dropbox' direction... But they probably won't with all their promoting SkyDrive and what not...

Yeah, or RedBox. A RedBox app would be awesome.

M_Lyons10 said,

Yeah, or RedBox. A RedBox app would be awesome.

Website works good for me, pin it to the start if you really need that "App" feel

Cyborg_X said,

Website works good for me, pin it to the start if you really need that "App" feel


do they have a mobile friendly website? I hate using their regular website on my phone.

simplezz said,
That can't be sustainable though surely. I can't imagine Google doing that.

it is not about sustainability! but that is not the point, the point is that once the market/segment leaders are in the app store then other similar type apps would be compelled to produced apps as well.

once the top 25-50 apps from other apps stores are available, coupled with a sufficient increase in win phone market share then MS will stop this program.

When you are playing catch up you have to do what ever it takes to make up ground. That is price of being late to the party.

red hook said,

it is not about sustainability! but that is not the point, the point is that once the market/segment leaders are in the app store then other similar type apps would be compelled to produced apps as well.

once the top 25-50 apps from other apps stores are available, coupled with a sufficient increase in win phone market share then MS will stop this program.

When you are playing catch up you have to do what ever it takes to make up ground. That is price of being late to the party.

Agreed. Though in most cases I would argue with someone saying that you can be "late" to a market that replaces your hardware so often, your meaning is different. I would agree here as there are apps available on other marketplaces at this point that a new platform would need to woo. I'm glad to see Microsoft doing so.

simplezz said,
That can't be sustainable though surely. I can't imagine Google doing that.

Google can't do this because it wouldn't be sustainable, they don't make money from android. They only make money from ads.

Microsoft, on the other hand, makes alot of money from various sources.

simplezz said,
That can't be sustainable though surely. I can't imagine Google doing that.

I think both Google and Apple did similar stuff such as handing out devices etc. Google still gives out new phones/tablets at that Google conference (Google I/O) I don't think it's anything specific, just that Microsoft has (and needs to) more money to spend than Apple/Google.

FalseAgent said,

Google can't do this because it wouldn't be sustainable, they don't make money from android. They only make money from ads.

Actually Google makes money from the Google Apps suite as well as ads.

The article says that, according to app developers, it would normally cost between $60,000 to $600,000 to fund the making of a Windows Phone app on their own.

Whilst I've only skimmed the article I don't see anywhere where it states that Microsoft paid up to $600,000 for App development... only that one company states that apps can cost that much to make. Also $600,000 I find hard to believe as the cost of development of many Apps.

lt8480 said,

Whilst I've only skimmed the article I don't see anywhere where it states that Microsoft paid up to $600,000 for App development... only that one company states that apps can cost that much to make. Also $600,000 I find hard to believe as the cost of development of many Apps.

I agree. Seems a little outrageous.

Interesting but overall a anecdote and nothing else. There is nothing wrong with Microsoft paying to help improve their device's collection of software. Far better than the atrophied state the beautiful OS would be in without this money being spent.

My only concern would be how long this kind of money being spent can be sustained, especially considering the slow uptake. Hopefully once Windows Phone 7 is more popular the monetary incentives won't be needed