Microsoft pampering its developers

Microsoft is in the final rush to launch the awaited Windows 8 and Windows RT this fall. Developers have submitted their applications and compiled and re compiled (and re re compiled and re re re …) their code from the Consumer Release, the General Preview, the Release to Manufacturer.

Now Microsoft is hesitating between two stances:

  • Being very strict on the UX guidelines by rejecting all applications that are off the target then offering a compelling windows UX
  • Being easy-going and certifying nearly all applications to have at launch a market place with a huge number of available apps

This is certainly a thin line to follow. But if Microsoft does it wisely it will surely lead to both a good app portfolio and a great user experience.

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Operators’ pillars: pipe & invoice

Mobile Platform providers have understood the key role operator have still to play in the application business. They are approaching operators to be able to use opetrators’ billing for their application store.

Microsoft started with Windows Mobile 6.5 and now Google is doing the same with Sprint in the US and will expand it to other regions in the coming months.

sprint billing android market

sprint billing on android market

Operators’ key asset beyond the pipe is their billing system. Unfortunately these billing system are most of the time obsolete and bulky, build on Cobol / Mainframe infrastructure.

Operators have here a unique opportunity to have their cut on the application business and get back at the centre of the game. Now it’s a question of IT agility. Usually not their most developed skill.

Nvidia accelerating its Android penetration

Nvidia has a real edge on Android devices and tablets. Its Tegra2 chip is making a breakthrough with its high performance and low consumption. > Multicore race

How to raise consumer awareness on its chip to generate demand? Nvidia has found the solution.

Nvidia is offering an application on the Android Market to know what the games are which has been optimized for my device and its powerful chip.  > TEGRA ZONE on Android Market

What is really smart is that this app isn’t another market place within the ANdroid Market but a guide that points to the right place within the Android Market. As they put it :

Tegra Zone is not intended to replace the purchase, download, or functionality of the Android Market, but rather to compliment it by providing a selection of premium games that developers believe will offer an exceptional experience for users of Tegra-powered phones and tablets.

This is a really smart approach that will create differentiation and strengthen Nvidia leading position in Android.

Is the WinKia alliance balanced?

Sorry to put the question bluntly, but is Microsoft taking Nokia’s destinity in hand?

Microsoft is always talking about the ecosystem they want to create around their software, always forgetting to mention ‘and we are at the end of the food chain’. With Microsoft on board, is a Nokia device still a Nokia experience? Is the customer a Nokia customer or a Microsoft customer? 18 months ago my answer would have been a strong yes. Who controls the software controls the user experience.

But today I believe the one who controls the app store controls the User Experience. To sell a device, you need first a nice hardware in terms of design and specs, secondly a nice OS with some wahoo UI features for the user to show off with his device.

What makes you really a long standing customer are the services and applications you can get from the application store. In this respect, Nokia-Microsoft alliance seems more balanced. Ovi services will be integrated into WindowsPhone application store. To keep its customer base Nokia needs to make OVI services experience on WP7 fantastic.

Let’s hope for Nokia that the governance of the application store has been smartly negotiated. If not, it will put Nokia in great danger.

Application market place certification: a new inquisition?

Microsoft just announced it will ban adult content from the Windows Phone Marketplace coming this month. Their policy disallows “images that are sexually suggestive or provocative”.
Apple has the same stance towards adult contents with this famous email from Steve Jobs: “We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone. Folks who want porn can buy [an] Android phone.”
This puritan policy is a bit dangerous from a business perspective. VHS, French minitel, the Internet and other technologies got traction at first because adult contents were available.
A more pragmatic approach would have been to implement a parental control tool and create a red district within the application market place. Mobile operators are doing this for a long time in accordance with their local regulations.
The last issue there is what moral authority has Apple or Microsoft to decide what can be offered to the end user? As their application market places are monopolistic stores as you can’t side load apps it poses a real freedom issue. Developpers were already feeling this, as the certification rules aren’t really clear. Now end users will start to wonder how these Inquisition Departments are choosing what they can use.