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Ask HN: Anyone Making Money on Windows Phone 8 Apps?
62 points by clarky07 1830 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 66 comments
I'm getting annoyed with the changes in the iOS App Store so I just finished porting several apps to Android and now I'm working on Windows 8. Just wondering if anyone has any experience good or bad with the new Windows platform.

I have a couple of applications exclusively marketed for WP7 and Windows 8. The biggest benefit I have seen is that the lack of apps in both markets makes a it prime ground for building a brand. It is still sparse enough to where you don't even need an original idea, just fill in an obvious gap. At the same time it is a gamble whether or not it will pick up, but I think both platforms have much promise. It is also good to note that Pubcenter (Microsoft's ad platform) beats most everything else out there, as in >.60 eCPM averages. A buddy of mine did a Pandora client for WP7 is reporting ad revenue of > $100 a day. I'm personally hitting somewhere around $30 a day. It's definitely harder to hit numbers like that in competing marketplaces. I imagine that if they pick up my buddy and I will be in a nice position which is what developing for an upcoming platform is really all about.

What's the name of that pandora client / link? That's one of 3 apps I was sad wasn't on wp8 so far.

sweet thanks. now i'm down to 2 :-) (cnbc and glassboard fwiw)

May I plug my app (Similar to Pandora but with music videos) http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/searchler-music-...

If all apps are considered equal, you may be less likely to make $100/day on iOS. But you can be sure that the upper limit of what you can make is many times greater on the App Store than on the Windows Store.

I have a few free Windows Phone 7 apps in the marketplace. Since Windows Phone 8 shipped I've seen my download rate increase ~50%, and it seems like around 30% of my active users are running WP8. I'm not making any money with these (just fun projects for me), but its a datapoint FWIW

Thanks -- can you mention any actual numbers (vs just the percentage increase)?

The whole Windows ecosystem is a huge mess for developers right now.

Visual Studio 2012 often crashes, the API documentation is often incomplete and not helpful, there are quite a number of incompatibilities between W8 and WP8, XAML has mediocre performance on ARM and can't be accessed from C++ on WP8, the list goes on and on.

If anything, Microsoft managed to make most Windows developers I know want to work on linux/Android or OSX/iOS instead - the rest are blissfully unaware of what UNIX is in the first place.

Sure these things may improve over time, but right now developers are nothing more than beta testers. For us, the possible profits are not worth the efforts to deal with the mediocre development experience.

Of all of the problems I have with Windows development, Visual Studio is the least of them. I think 2012 is pretty darn good as far as IDEs go.

Vs2012 crashes less than vs2010 though. Hand over your cash now for the new feature!

We've bailed and moving to java on the server and web and android apps for mobile.

I used to write Java on the server-side and hated it. It felt like mindlessly writing boilerplate code for a living with a language assuming I'm an idiot who can't be trusted with more than one paradigm at a time.

The last backend application I wrote was entirely written in CoffeeScript running on node.js. While it doesn't get the performance of the JVM, the development experience has been some of the most fun I've had in years.

For future backend projects, especially if they're big in scale, I'm looking at either Haskell or the D programming language.

Java on the server is fine if you know how not to poke your eyes out with context reloading and avoid jsp and jsf like the plague :)

I find coffeescript/node.js to be a bit too trendy to trust and Haskell to be perl for computer scientists.

If I had my way, I'd write everything in RPL

I'd rather avoid Java itself like the plague :)

The JVM may be great, but the language itself is mediocre at best!

Maybe if it someday gets type inference, removes the null pointer (and therefore the stupid NullPointerException in "memory safe" code), adds lambda expressions, adds compile-time function evaluation, doesn't try to wrap everything inside a class and a few more improvements especially to limit the god-awful verbosity, I might give it a try again - but by then we'd call it Lisp.

The D language has completely replaced C/C++/Java/C# for me, it's not as portable yet but it's getting there.

You should give Haskell a try, I don't use it much yet but merely understanding concepts such as monads, type classes and applicative functors have completely changed my perspective on software development. It's just like learning Lisp; it's enlightening to say the least.

The language is simple, which is its main virtue. Problems are easy to solve and communicate. Most problems are already solved as well which is how you spend less time writing code and more time delivering functionality (or taking holidays).

Agree with type inference, but null pointers are fine (if you know what you are doing and use commons.lang validator). Don't really need lambda, but its coming anyway. Compile time evaluation - no thanks. Verbosity is solved with tooling.

I'm proficient with common lisp and scheme (ive even built my own scheme vm) and I'd rather use java over either to be honest because it is so hard to get anywhere with lisp variants and the only ide worth mentioning (slime/emacs) is unreliable and clunky. It's a ghetto.

I spent 2 months trying to build something in Haskell. Its fine for data processing tasks, math and comp Sci focussed stuff but for productive every day use, its a pain in the arse. It's also write only.

Enlightenment for me was discovering and writing a forth interpreter and compiler. Then discovering RPL on the HP48 series of calculators. Before that it was BBC BASIC (not to be confused with mere BASIC) and ARM assembly.

"a bit too trendy to trust"

I imagine java was trendy also when everything was written in C++

Back then, Sun had to spend a fortune to push Java down the throats of developers. Mostly by selling it to their clueless managers instead.

Java was born out of a trend and still lives as one to this day, good thing only the corporate world really bought into it!

The reason its so popular with corporates is that most of the expensive problems are already solved so building software is sticking a few well proven components together with some glue. It's also good at managing memory for you, which is not something that can be said for most languages.

When java turned up, we were all still writing c. C++ was still fairly unstable then. Microsoft's compiler was actually probably the best on the market and it was still a hunk of shit to the point that most people just did win32+c. On UNIX it was always C.

VS2012 for Windows Phone development is free: http://aka.ms/winphone8sdk

You still have to pay for it if you want extension support.

The Windows Phone sales of our app have been extremely lackluster. Our app is a paid app priced at $4.99 and targeted for Windows Phone 7.

On iOS we regularly get into the Top 10 iPhone and iPad Sports apps (both top paid and top grossing), and on Android into the Top 20 Sports apps on Google Play.

Our WP7 version has generated approximately 0.5% of what our iOS app has made, or approximately 2% of our Android app.

We also have had a Mac version of our app available since July which has almost passed the total sales of the WP version which has been on the market for over a year (our app is primarily targeted at mobile device users while they're at a sporting event, so lower computer sales are expected).

The jury is still out on how our Windows 8/RT app will sell in relation to the others since it was released just prior to the launch of Win8 but after the majority of our sport's season had completed for the year.

Our app does spread pretty virally at the events. In our completely unscientific polling of users, most of them found out about the app from other users, and I would guess that those WP users probably just assume that it's not available to them (we do give it equal promotion with the rest of the versions on our website).

As far as the release of WP8 goes, we haven't seen any noticeable uptick in sales as a result.

I wonder if your app goes well on tablets as well as phones and so Windows 8 will be big for you.

We're certainly hoping that the Win8 version will go well and we made sure that it would work well on tablets.

Both our iOS and Android versions have tablet optimized interfaces and we see a significant amount of tablet use for both.

A somewhat interesting side note, our iPad top chart rankings lag behind iPhone by a few hours. Presumably people get the app on their phone while at the event and then go home and install it on their iPad as well.

I'm really interested to see if there's any traction here, or if its all smoke and mirrors like with Windows Phone 7...

Yeah same here. Numbers from Microsoft keep saying it's better, but only with relative numbers. Sure app sales have doubled in a month, but if it's from 10-20 I'm not that excited.

That's why I started this thread though. See if any indies have something out yet and are making actual money comparable to either iPhone or Android.

As a dev, I don't access to a reasonably priced WP8 device being sold in my country, and after getting the Lumia 800 a yaer back, if I have to get another phone, the more pertinent question would be how much money I am spending to develop these apps.

BTW, the emulator is horrible.

Really? my experience with the emulators (both for windows phone, and windows 8) have been fantastic. Can you elaborate what was horrible about them?

Main reason - I am making a typing oriented app, and it so TOUGH to type on the emulator as it doesnt take keyboard input. And I felt the options were limited compared to the Android emulator.

Just press 'page up' and the Windows Phone emulator will let you type with your keyboard. It does get annoying when you have to do this every time, but I think the Windows Phone emulator beats Android's significantly in terms of speed and stability.

> speed and stability

Speed yes, but stability? I've never had the Android emulator crash, and haven't heard of (m)any cases of it either.

Also, is the WP8 a simulator or an emulator?

hi -the emulator does take keyboard input - press page down once you've selected a textbox. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh134796%28v=express...

Thanks, I didn't know that. Though it is going to be clumsy on my MBP.

I had multiple issues with the WP7 emulator, but the WP8 emulator has been great so far.

I'm running Windows in a VM on OS X 10.8 so I wonder what you could be doing to make the WP8 emulator suck.

Contact your local Windows Phone champ if you have one. (Attend a .Net user group and ask around) I have received 4 devices free as a result of partnering with my regional resource.

I make ~$200 from a browser app I wrote a couple of years ago. http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/17/windows-phone-7-will-work...

...per month? On x downloads per month? Thanks, it's helpful to get some numbers.

Per month. It's a $1.99 app.

My experience with WP development. I have a Twitter client (I know, it's not an original app, it started just as a playground) since February, and I can tell some things:

- A lot of people answering questions (even if WP itself doesn't have a big developer community, lots of questions are common to Silverlight, C# and .NET platform ones so you have plenty of resources). The documentation is really good, at least comparing with what I've seen on Android and iOS (Android was far worse when I looked into it).

- VS2012 is also pretty good. Of course, you don't get as deep as you would with a plain C compiler, but that's another point. I've heard that it really becomes great when you use all MS tools like TFS for version control and collaboration. With git... well, there are plugins but I think it's better to use the console. Same with unit tests. There is a library for unit testing on Windows Phone and it's good enough, but I expected something more from MS.

- The store is a 5/10. It's good enough, but it can improve a lot. Luckily, they're very open to new ideas and are improving each month.

- Making money: My app is free, made 3000 downloads last month. Not a bad number taking into account that it's difficult to compete with well established apps like Mehdoh, Rowi, Gleek and Peregrine and I don't get so much exposure. But I'm pretty sure that this number could be far higher: on average, I got ~50 downloads per day, but the app was highlighted three days in the spanish Store, about 1200 downloads more.

So, with a bigger user base and more exposure in the store (localization helps a lot, for me it almost tripled downloads of the app) you can make money. Of couse, if nobody downloads your app, you won't make any... But there's less competing apps here, so it's easier to get to the top of the market. You won't get as many benefits as if you were on Android / iOS, but probably there you wouldn't be on the top.

As a Windows Phone user, one thing I can comment on is that some Windows Phone apps that I have seen in my personal experience are more expensive than Android or iOS apps. I'm assuming this is because developing for WP has a lower potential for return, but it really turns me off on the app. Some I've been willing to purchase on my Android tablet, I have not purchased on my Windows Phone because the price difference was 99c vs 2.99.

Price is something you have to take into account; price it too high and people won't buy it, which in turn gives you a lower ROI. Then you have developers complaining that their WP app didn't turn a profit and the market is dead when in reality the price was just out of sync with other platforms. Consumer's aren't blind, and regardless of the platform they don't care the reason why your prices are high. All they care about is iOS gets it for 99c and they're saddled with a price significantly higher than that.

While I can understand what you are saying in theory, 1.99 or 2.99 is not in fact significantly higher. it's a dollar. 1/4 a cup of coffee. I know we've had these discussions before and it's not coffee blah blah blah. But come on, "significantly higher." It's just not.

The thing is, apps are priced as they are because of risk. In general, apps are worth either 0 or significantly higher than a dollar. If it turns out you don't like it and you don't use it, then it's worth absolutely nothing. On the other hand, if you like it and end up using it all the time, it's worth far far more than $1.

If you already know you like an app because you've used it on another platform, or tried a trial or demo version, spending 1.99 or 2.99 really shouldn't be much of a hurdle.

Also, I suspect those devs started out at the same price point, and when they sold 1-5% of what they do on iOS or Android they decided to raise the price.

$3 vs $1 is a 300% price increase. No matter how small the actual amount is, that's how it shows. We're paying a 300% markup. I mentioned that this is likely due to risk, then went on to say that this risk mitigation sometimes ends up causing more damage than it helps. Raising the price doesn't always make more money, sometimes it just decreases sales.

I didn't set the standard price for apps. The market did. Is software worth more than 99c? Sure. But that's the standard price for a standard app. $3 is seen as a major hurdle. Some big-name publishers are putting out Pac Man and Galaga etc at $7 on Windows Phone. The reviews section is full of "this is way too expensive, I'm just playing the demo over again". I have paid $15 for an app, but not many people will. If you want to sell, you need to price it at an appetizing rate. $3 is fine if you can justify it to the market and it's a fair price. Telling users "your platform is more expensive to develop for" will get the developer nowhere.

It's basic economics. Valve even did an analysis that is posted occasionally here on HN showing that their profits went up when they reduced prices. I've heard some developers say that their ad revenue on free apps is more than their sales revenue on paid apps, regardless of the platform. Whatever the reason, if you think that dollar or two difference is insignificant, read the reviews of some WP apps with a price differential between marketplaces.

I know someone that quit his job because he was making enough money on advertising alone on just Windows Phone 8 apps. He's got even more apps in the store now, so I don't know how much he's making but I think he's doing very well. Then there's Windows 8 which promises to be much bigger!

... so has anyone actually made any money on Windows Phone 8?

As far as I know you shouldn't even be making WP8 apps, because they are not compatible with any WP7 device. So developers are stuck with building WP7 apps that also work on WP8 devices, because most WP devices are WP7.

And I don't think a Windows 8 app can be the same as a WP8 app either. At the very least you'll need a whole new UI and design, and most likely quite different code, too. It's not as easy as Microsoft says: "write once, publish to all our platforms with Windows in their name".

As a Windows 8 developer, the most frustrating part of WP8 is the lack of compatibility for native HTML5/WinJS apps. For me, this was the best thing about Windows 8. It made building apps easy and fun. The most ridiculous thing about the whole thing is that the HTML5/WinJS apps are completely responsive, and you pretty much have to build a mobile version of your app to support "snap" mode. So, they could easily have a write once, run anywhere model if they just supported native HTML5 apps in WP8. Sorry, /rant.

I did not know this about WP8, and I'm glad you said something. It's stuff like this that will make devs steer clear of writing for them. If I can write a PhoneGap app for Android/iPhone (Which I am), but I have to make major changes to write for WP8 then I am not going to do so.

There's a Windows Phone 8 implementation of PhoneGap: https://github.com/apache/incubator-cordova-wp8

Not true. Windows 8 runs WPF which is what also runs the UI of WP7/8. The code layer is/can all be C# as well. That means that the compatibility is actually must farther than that of Java/Android/Linux. Not being able to run Android Views on a Linux box being the differentiating factor.

Also, Not True. WP7/8 runs a modified version of silverlight. Now, both WPF, Silverlight and Windows 8 all use XAML, but you are not guaranteed that they will be cross compatible (close, but not quite the same). They all run C# code, but with different base class libraries and sometimes one env will not have certain classes (HttpClient, among others).

So, they are very similar and porting from one env to another usually isn't a huge deal, but issues can arise. See Portable Class Libraries to make your life easier in this regard: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/hh335063.aspx

HTTPClient was released as a nuget component: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/henrikn/archive/2012/02/16/httpclien...

It's not exactly massive differences. It's been a while since I used Silverlight but as long as you target Siverlight first you'll be alright, the biggest restriction is the reduced .Net library.

That's FUD. Check out this article on how much effort it takes to support both WP7 and WP8 with first class apps http://www.hanselman.com/blog/UpdatingMyWindowsPhoneAppToWin...

TLDR; minor code changes, change screen ratio, add screenshots

The app they are updating there is incredibly simple and using few of the APIs and similar changed from WP7 to WP8. Updating a real app that is actually functional (like say, actually updates you with the GPS when your phone is stolen and not just showing a banner, seriously?) would be far more difficult.

Far from impossible, but not a simple 'press button, app upgraded' as with iOS or Android. Plus this is apparently changing even further for the new MS Blue sometime in the future.

You seem to have some strange idea of FUD too.


My boss makes $1k/mo from an alarm click app.

The local university here in Finland has in interesting partnership with Microsoft. They offer you some money if you develop your app exclusively for Windows Phone for the first 6 months or so. Seems quite harmful for the startups...

I won't even think of building for Windows phone until I see them in the wild. I did see one at the cable car turn around in San Francisco - so I asked the guy using it... Yup, he worked for MSFT

It has turned into a very useful discussion. I am planning porting a few things over from iOS next year.

There are a few things I still need to figure out before going over there tho.

Where to get a free/cheap device? I keep hearing people saying they got free testing devices

What lang I need to write in for it to work on win7phone, win8phone and win8rt/win8

Find out who your local Microsoft Phone Champ is (Attend a .NET user group and ask or use the less social way described her: http://channel9.msdn.com/coding4fun/blog/Need-to-find-your-l...). Windows Phone technically supports any .NET language but most articles will be in C# then a big drop off to VB and there are some nuances see: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/4539876/is-it-possible-to....


I have an iOS/Android app side project that I'm interested in porting to Windows Phone 8/7. I have never worked in the microsoft eco system. I have 2 questions.

What would be a good test device? No contract, not too expensive but also a viable device.

Anywhere or anyone recommended to do the development?

Not available yet, but soon the Nokia lumia 620 looks like what you're after


You can get a lumia 710 for not much. Doesn't do windows phone 8 but all the 7/8 portable apps will work on it.

Never test on a flagship device!

What do you mean by "flagship device"?

Lumia 820/920

I released 1 app that took me 2 weeks to build. I've made a spanking $40 within the last 3 weeks. I get about 300 downloads a day.

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