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Ask HN: Windows phone dev success/failure stories?
86 points by codedivine on July 31, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments
Has any of you made any apps for Windows Phone 7? Any statistics, insights or anecdotes to share?

I plan on blogging some detailed numbers soon for all my apps. Here is an example. This app does really well as a free app with ads. I have others that have done better as paid apps.

Sticker Draw Blog post with video http://ideaindustries.net/sticker-draw-for-windows-phone-7/

Marketplace link to free version http://windowsphone.com/s?appid=e80104a9-c243-e011-854c-0023...

I targeted the app at kids in the 2-8 year old range. I started out by making it a paid app priced at 1.29$. I released it early February. My thought was there is so much garbage out there something with a little bit of quality might do ok. It didn't. I also had trouble getting press from any of the wp7 sites. I added a free version using pubcenter ads in March as an experiment. I also put a "buy the full version" link on the menu.


93 purchases for paid version. It hasn't done well and I haven't seen an uptick from the buy the full version link. I did screw up here. I know some tricks now for getting better numbers for freshly released apps.

Ad Supported

89k impressions since launch 603$ in revenue Avg eCPM is 6.82$ (this is abnormally high but pubcenter does have high eCPMS) I'm getting 600-1000 impressions a day now.

As far as the development tools and process... I work in a shop that does all 3 platforms. I have some experience with Android and even less with iOS but I'm going to say this anyway: Windows Phone has the best platform and tools for mobile development. That may be hard to believe since the platform is so new but Silverlight is great and the tooling is mature.

(Disclaimer: former MS employee): Writing WP7 apps has always been a really awesome experience - making your app look awesome with animations and transitions as well as custom styles is really easy compared to iOS and Android. Being able to replace the look and animations of a control without having to subclass it (i.e. rewrite the interaction logic) is really powerful.

I saw your tweet. WTH happened? You do something you weren't supposed to? What happens to Rx?

Haha, didn't get fired, just moving to another job. Rx will be fine :)

+1 for WP7 tools to develop. I prefer Android as a platform, but you start to cry if you compare what tools you have for Android compared to WP7.

Thanks for the info! Do you have a link to your blog so that I can check for updates?

I have 2 free add supported and 1 paid apps up:

Mustachio - http://social.zune.net/redirect?type=phoneApp&id=3adc071... Mustachio Pro - http://social.zune.net/redirect?type=phoneApp&id=0ed1faf... Square Attack - http://social.zune.net/redirect?type=phoneApp&id=a35d2c6...

Mustachio has been up for about 2 months, has about 4.5K downloads, and has made about $80. eCPM is about $1 with 2K impressions per day. Mustachio Pro is a paid version ( $0.99) without ads. It's sold about 70 copies so far.

Square Attack has been up for about 2 weeks, has about 2.5K downloads, and has made about $200. When first released, the eCPM climbed to $6-7 but has dropped a lot lately ($1-2). I'm guessing it has something to do with # of new users per day which has also dropped a lot. Square Attack is about 150 in the free games list so it's very hard to find even though its getting pretty good reviews. I'd love to know how the top apps got there since being the top apps list looks like the best way to advertise and the best bet at success.

I clicked on your link and got some confusing page about zune software.


I guess this isn't like iTunes App Store preview pages where it goes straight there, and anyone can look.

Poor Microsoft, you just have to face palm. Ballmer you idiot, did you ever think people might buy your phone based on cool apps? I would have loved to do some WP7 development, I think the metro look is great, the tools sound good, there's just no damn way now.

Of the games powered by mogade.com (they are all WP7 games as far as I know), I can tell you that:

-The most unique devices 1 game has seen is 129824 (more than twice the next)

-The most game starts a game has seen in a day is 9928

-The most unique devices a game has seen in a day is 4914

Of course, exactly how/when developers are calling the stats tracking functions, I don't know. For all I know, the guy's got a for loop killing my server on game start...

App development is great. Unfortunately, I've only ever seen 2 WP7 phones in the wild.

The low resale value of WP7 phones on eBay and CL suggests things aren't good, either.

WP7 is definitely a "good" platform. I've preferred having a WP7 over an iPhone for everyday use. If you're saying "things aren't good" in terms of sales, then you might be right...but the low sales are definitely not an indicator of the OS' quality in this case... but more an indicator of the lack of trust from the public in MS consumer products.

"an indicator of the lack of trust from the public in MS consumer products."

That doesn't sound right. Consumers are buying products like Windows 7 and Xbox 360 in droves, but they wouldn't be doing that if they didn't trust Microsoft. There must be some other explanation.

I was speaking relatively to Apple and Google products. When Apple announces something, millions of people flock to the nearest Apple store to marvel at the shininess of the products that "change everything...AGAIN". When Google announces something, millions have nerdgasms and scour the net for any bit of rumor or info they can find. When MS release something, millions go "WP7...what's that? Is that like an iPhone?"

Their choice on Windows 7 is severely limited. (Buy a Mac, build your own hardware, eat the cost of Windows or use a linux vendor like system76 that no one knows exists) Xbox 360 took massive amounts of marketing investment from Microsoft, and frankly, does the average consumer know that Microsoft makes Xboxes?

I think it is more an issue of sales velocity. Android took a little time to achieve significant velocity in a marketplace with only the iPhone as a touch screen competitor. Looking at WP7 it is apparent that Microsoft is in it for the long haul - and you don't drop a $billion on a "Pre"liminary project unless you are.


| but more an indicator of the lack of trust from the public in MS consumer products

That seems hard to believe when Windows 7 sales are through the roof, XBox and Kinect sales are through the rough and so on. And Microsoft used to disassociate their name from the XBox line, but that was years ago.

Most people don't have a beef with Microsoft.

As an aside, could you give a mini-review of your WP7 phone and go into why you prefer it over an iPhone for daily use?

Here's a gamasutra article on the various mobile OSes:


The interesting quote from the article is from PopCap:

"It certainly hasn't resonated with consumers as anyone would like," says PopCap's Stein, who uses a WP7 device as his everyday phone. "Given the install base of Windows Phone devices, our games have actually sold quite well, and it monetizes very well for customers who have a Windows Phone. There just aren't enough of them right now."

I expect a good game or app to do pretty well on any platform that has little competition and where the average app price is pretty high.

In general I agree. Although in terms of games, I think Windows Phone may already be on par with Android with respect to their marketplace. The Windows Phone games are quite impressive. Not iPhone yet, but moving quickly.

We released an app around march


There have been sales but not a lot which is expected given its a niche total sales are still sub 3 digits.

Development tools and development itself is awesome and I can say that given that I've apps for iPhone as well.

I use a WP7 device for daily use and it hasn't disappointed me for any use expect maybe that skype is still not available and MS has let carriers have too much control.

That looks pretty neat, but how do you buy it? I couldn't see a buy link on your page.

Installed the beta2 the other day. Built the usual hello world app so can't tell much about building larger apps. What I can say is I find the IDE and Emulator really snappy. Visual design is really smooth, much better imo than for example Android development using Eclipse. My $.02

Just based on what I've seen around the net, on a per-user basis WP7 is more profitable for devs than android, but there just aren't enough users. Hopefully that changes soon. 3 competing (and equally large) platforms will be great for users as well as devs.

For a reason that I don't know and don't understand, their developer program is not supporting all countries in the world or most of them. That is why I can't start (I want to get into Mobile Development and I know C#), I can't publish my apps.

Look at Yalla Apps. Among 3 official third-party publishers, Yalla Apps has the lowest price. They have a list of "focused" countries, but you can publish via them regardless of where you from.

For the following 6 apps :

-Earthquakes Monitor http://plusapps.eu/Earthquakes-Monitor.html -Frankfurt Airport http://plusapps.eu/Frankfurt-Airport-Information.html -Berlin Airport -Munich Airport -Athens Airport -Child Growth Standards

Trial Downloads : 1027

Purchases : 295

In my opinion the main problem with the Windows Phone Marketplace at the moment is the low sales numbers of devices. With the new version of the OS and the addition of NOKIA hardware Microsoft hopes that they can achieve a bigger market share.

The development experience has been extremely good. Visual Studio + Expression Blend is perfect for rapidly prototyping apps and fine tuning animations.

As for downloads, I've found it's a lot easier to get your app noticed in the smaller marketplace. Also for a while ad revenue was very good. I made $50/day using PubCenter for ads in my games for a few months. After March 2011, however, something in the system changed (or maybe advertisers just started paying less) and my eCPM has dropped a lot.

The smaller audience for W7 is a both a negative and a positive. Negative because (obviously) there are less customer out there. But positive because there is less development competition out there- you could probably carve out a decent niche with a good app.

If you build a free apps with ads and use the MS mobile Ad Exchange, the eCPM's are pretty good.


Heh, I think it's actually incredibly telling that this question has 20 upvotes and has been around for an hour, yet no one has anything to say.

Yeah, definitely a little worrying. I'd love to hear about people's experience as we're considering working on some apps specifically for WP7.

I think that implies Windows Phone was a bit of a failure perhaps?

Everyone wants to know how it's done, but maybe no one knows :(

Purely from what I've read it's capabilities atm are a bit of a failure. Honestly though, with Mango being release in about a month, that could change dramatically.

I used to own an iPhone (3GS) when I was dev'ing for it, and now I own a WP7. I gotta say, it's everything but "a bit of a failure". I love this OS and its interface, but mainly, I love how it doesn't just feel like a container for apps (iPhone). Everything just "flows", so to speak, and I don't feel like I always need to go back to a "main page" to go to my next app. Also, the main page for WP7 is not just apps, it's really ANYTHING you want to pin (eg. websites, playlists, artists, videos, apps, documents, contacts, etc.).

Mango is about to make that "flow" even more prominent :)

I also disagree. I have a WP7 phone and absolutely love the OS. The apps are lacking, and there are a few irritating missing features on my phone (no custom ringtones, can't turn off camera sound, apps can't access compass, etc) but on the whole, I really enjoy the experience.

I'm glad to here you like the OS, unfortunate about lacking apps though. Hopefully Mango changes that (thoughts on it?)

I'm actually getting a WP7 phone Tuesday myself. Any recommendations for apps, or anything once I get it?

Some of my often-used apps:

-Rowi (for Twitter)

-Wooter (woot.com app)



-TransitFinder and StopGoStopGo for Boston MBTA service alerts/schedules

-Skyview is a sorta-decent celestial constellation app

Games: -Shuriken Ninja, Angry Birds, geoDefense, Beards and Beaks, Plants vs. Zombies, Krashlander, Pandas vs. Ninjas (free Angry Birds clone)

In addition to what polyfractal mentioned, I would also look at these:

- Adobe Reader

- Netflix

- GoVoice (Google Voice client)

- Speed Searcher

- ShopSavvy

- Tasks (by Telerik)

- Shazam (Once Mango is out, this won't be necessary)

- Project Emporia

- LiveStrong's Calorie Tracker (Normally $2.99 but free until end of August)

Games - AlphaJax, Wordament, Orb, Unity

I'd disagree. The OS's capabilities are actually pretty good imo. I used my wife's HTC Trophy for a few weeks and was a bit bummed to go back to my iPhone. The apps story is night and day though -- there just aren't as many high quality apps and that's where WP7 is hamstrung.

As far as developer experience, I don't do android, but it's so much easier writing and debugging WP7 apps than iOS, from the tools to the simple managed/unmanaged aspects.

That said, Mango isn't going to change things dramatically. It's a good update, but the apps and perception are the problem. Going to be a long haul for WP7, but I hope MSFT sticks to it because it is a good mobile OS.

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