RealTime IT News

Microsoft's Mobile Storefront Has Familiar Terms

Microsoft has revealed its terms for selling Windows Mobile applications via its iTunes App Store competitor, the Microsoft Marketplace for Mobile.

In a statement released Wednesday, the company said it plans to charge developers an initial price of $99 per year to register. The registration will let developers submit five applications for certification and listing in Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) app store.

In return, developers who sell their applications via Marketplace for Mobile will receive 70 percent of the proceeds. Apple charges developers a similar $99 per year fee and takes a 30 percent commission. The applications will be designed to run on handsets built on Windows Mobile 6.5, which is set to ship in the second half of the year.

Marketplace for Mobile is the software giant's online storefront for mobile apps. It was announced in February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Microsoft said it plans to make Marketplace for Mobile available in 29 countries. Users will be able to purchase apps simply by providing a valid Windows Live ID. THe storefront will also be integrated into all Windows Mobile 6.5 devices.

"The next generation of the Windows Mobile operating system (version 6.5), will allow developers to build innovative mobile applications without having to learn new skills or programming languages," Microsoft's statement said. That is, they'll be able to write Windows Mobile 6.5 apps using .NET Compact Framework 3.5 and the Windows Mobile 6 SDK.

"It's de rigueur these days to have an app store," Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD Techworld, told InternetNews.com.

Indeed, besides Apple's App Store, which claims some 25,000 apps – about 5,000 more than Microsoft claims for Windows Mobile devices to date – Microsoft faces competition from Nokia, RIM, and Palm.

That makes it incumbent on Microsoft to ensure it keeps developers and users loyal to Windows Mobile. Ease of application programming as well as favorable financial terms for them will help to some extent with developers, but is not a guaranty.

"If you do apps for one [store], chances are that you're going to look to port to as many app stores as you can," Baker said.