Alan Mendelevich - who runs AdDuplex, the company behind the popular Windows 10 app AppRaisin - went to his blog Ailon.org today to announce that the company would be ending active development on the app, and to call out Microsoft on its mobile strategy. Before we go any further, AppRaisin will continue to work and it will still be updated, just not as actively as before.
Mendelevich isn't shy about calling out Microsoft, saying the following in a section called "what went wrong":
Quite a few points below will look like I’m assigning blame (primarily on Microsoft). And, on the one hand, I am. I am convinced that a lot of things they said and did (or in many cases didn’t do) affected a lot of Windows developers dramatically. But at the end of the day, I only have myself to blame — either for making genuine mistakes or believing “corporate talk” and failing to read between the lines.
He blames Microsoft's mobile strategy. In fact, throughout his post, the word "strategy" is in quotes because "there either isn’t one or it is so deep and “forward-looking” that I fail to understand it."
When AppRaisin launched in November 2015, its projections were twofold: Windows 10 Mobile was to be available by the end of 2015, and it was to be available to all Windows Phone 8.1 devices. Indeed, these were things that Microsoft had promised.
Instead, while Windows 10 Mobile devices launched in November, older devices wouldn't receive the upgrade until March. Even then, it was a small subset of the devices that Microsoft had promised. Moreover, anyone that wanted Windows 10 has to download an app from the Store to get it; however, no users were actually informed of this. You had to actively be aware that it was available.
If you're not familiar with AdDuplex, it's the company that provides Windows phone usage share details every month. Because of that, the firm is able to provide information such as the following:
If Microsoft had done things a bit differently, there could have been almost seven times as many devices running Windows 10 Mobile now. Mendelevich also provided the following graph to make his point.
AppRaisin is an app that allows users to find good Windows applications. It's described as a "ranked app news service modeled on the concept behind Digg, Reddit, Hacker News, Product Hunt and the likes."
After launching in November, it was planned to have 100,000 active users by the end of 2016. Now, it stands at roughly 25,000, adding one or two thousand a month. Clearly, AdDuplex will not meet its projections.
And it's not just because of Microsoft's mobile mishaps. After all, AppRaisin is a UWP app, meaning that it's available on all Windows 10 platforms. Despite a very small percentage of Microsoft's 350 million Windows 10 users being on Windows phones, four out of five AppRaisin users are on Windows 10 Mobile.
Indeed, desktop apps from the Windows Store simply aren't used nearly as much as their mobile counterparts.
Mendelevich also says that AppRaisin was unwanted on the Windows platform, as being featured in the Windows Store was an important part of his go-to-market strategy. For sure, he thought he would be featured for the following reasons:
We’ve built a high quality UWP app (and Windows team was all about UWP apps at the time);
The app encourages people to download more apps — good for the platform;
And we have an unfair advantage of having good relationships with multiple teams and people inside Microsoft.
It sounds like a reasonable assumption, but no, Microsoft would never feature AppRaisin in the Store. He said that when he showed the app to some folks from Microsoft, "everyone seemed to like it, but when I tried to discuss possibilities of being featured, their facial expressions changed."
The problem is that the app actively promotes other apps, which is OK for being listed in the Windows Store, but not OK for being featured. After all, it's up to Microsoft's crack team of Windows Store curators to tell us what apps to download, not some third-party developer.
After nine months, Mendelevich says that AppRaisin wasn't featured a single time.
Indeed, he says that Microsoft has "stop lists", that not only keep an app from being featured, but keep it from being on any of the top lists, such as "top free" or "new and rising". According to Mendelevich, he had a conversation with some folks at Microsoft's Build 2016 developer conference and there are some internal conversations going on about changing some of these rules.
These are powerful words coming from Mendelevich. When the CEO of AdDuplex speaks, Microsoft should certainly listen. Of course, as he implies when referring to the company's mobile "strategy", it might simply not care.