I’ve noticed something interesting recently with some of the paid apps appearing in the Windows Phone 7 marketplace. For apps that are essentially just a front-end for publicly available free data, I’m wondering why you would want to pay for them?
For example I chose to publish my Internode Usage app for free (just updated to version 1.1). As I don’t have to pay to access the data (Internode make it freely available via a web API) I figure unless the app adds significant additional value then why shouldn’t my app be free too?
The same principle applies to the second WP7 app that I’ve been developing – “Aussie Toilets”. It is based on data published by the Australian Government, and as they’ve already published a free iPhone app, the idea that I would try and charge for basically the same thing on a different platform doesn’t seem logical (I’m assuming my app is similar, I haven’t actually seen the iPhone one).
You see, for every paid app that uses free data there’s a threat looming - another app that uses the same data but which is free. So if a paid app is to be commercially viable then it really needs to stand out – add significant value to the original data (eg. visualisations, interpretations), and stand above any free competition.
There is one reason I can think of for some apps being paid which would otherwise be free. It’s related to the fact that developers only get 5 free app submissions per year (but no limit to paid apps), so there is an incentive to publish paid apps (especially considering the penalty for failing app certification for a new free app).
So my challenge to the WP7 developer community – innovate and provide real value, and make the best of an impressive platform. Deliver quality apps, whether they are free or paid. But if you expect me to pay for your app, make sure the value it provides is worth at least the value you are charging for it!
It’s interesting to consider the approach that the SQL Server team take to servicing their products and contrast that with the Visual Studio team.
There are currently 3 versions of SQL Server covered under mainstream support (4 if you count extended support for SQL Server 2000 SP4 until 9th April 2013):
- SQL Server 2005
- SQL Server 2008
- SQL Server 2008R2
and we know that ‘Denali’ is in the works as the next version.
Current service packs include:
- Service Pack 4 for 2005 (released in December 2010)
- Service Pack 2 for 2008 (released in September 2010)
In addition, ‘Cumulative Updates’ are also released at regular intervals, and most impressively these also cover multiple service packs for the same RTM versions. As the name suggests, these updates contain all of the hotfixes released since the applicable release. For example the latest cumulative updates include:
- Cumulative Update #2 for 2008 SP2
- Cumulative Update #12 for 2008 SP1
- Cumulative Update #1 for 2005 SP4
- Cumulative Update #5 for 2008 R2 RTM
- Cumulative Update #13 for 2005 SP3
You can go to http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlreleaseservices/ to see all the details.
Now contrast this with current mainstream supported versions of Visual Studio:
- Visual Studio 2005
- Visual Studio 2008
- Visual Studio 2010
There’s been single service packs for 2005 and 2008. There’s also currently a beta for the 2010 service pack. To the best of my knowledge they’ve never released additional service packs for any of the ‘.NET era’ VS versions.
Additional updates are released but in very much a piecemeal fashion. It’s up to you to look trawl through the items posted to the Connect site or on MSDN and do your research by then trying to look up KB articles as the original descriptions aren’t always that descriptive.
I guess what I’m saying is it wouldn’t it be great for the VS team to take a leaf out of the SQL team’s book and provide a greater commitment to servicing their existing products as well as innovating on the next release – provide proper cumulative updates for current VS releases.
I’ve just learned that I passed another beta exam!
- 70-506 - TS: Silverlight 4, Development
The nice thing about this is that it’s turned out to be quite relevant to the Windows Phone 7 development I’ve been doing.
This should mean I now gain the following certification:
- Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: Silverlight 4, Development