Microsoft today announced new details about how developers can build and sell applications for Windows phones through Windows Marketplace for Mobile, the recently announced application marketplace available with the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system.
Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which has yet to open, joins a long list of platform- and handset-based mobile application stores looking to generate revenue via unique content. Apple’s App Store has been one of the standout cases, generating 500 million downloads in its first six months.
Revenue sharing for the store will echo Apple’s current policy, with 70 percent of profits going to developers and 30 percent to Microsoft. A software developer kit (SDK) is now available for download online.
Microsoft also followed Apple’s lead by charging developers a $99 registration fee. Up to five application submissions to Windows Marketplace for Mobile is included in the introductory annual registration fee. Each additional submission within the annual period will cost $99.
The registration fee is reportedly waived for student developers who want to reach Windows phone customers through enrollment in the Microsoft DreamSpark program.
Developer frustration has been exacerbated recently by the increasingly fragmented world of mobile application development. Each device, platform and carrier essentially requires its own version of any given application, making broad reach a real problem for smaller developers.
The Eclipse Foundation yesterday announced Pulsar, a new industry initiative to define and create a standard mobile application development tools platform. The initiative is led by Motorola, Nokia and Genuitec. Participating members also include IBM, Research In Motion (RIM) and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications.
“Today, each of the OEMs provides their own set of tools. It’s quite difficult. Quite a challenge for developers,” says Dino Brusco, director of Developer Platforms and Services at Motorola.
“By providing a common development environment defined collaboratively across the mobile industry, the Eclipse Pulsar Platform is enabling more developers to create innovative applications for multiple devices,” Brusco says.
While the Pulsar Initiative aims at unifying OEMs, it won’t solve the problem of different platforms, and there are no signs that Apple, Microsoft or Android will be working together to develop such standards on the platform side.
Apple has set a high bar for success in the world of mobile application stores. The similarity between Microsoft’s developer guidelines and Apple’s seems to further validate the App Store’s formula. But however similar they may be, it looks as though fragmentation will continue to drive competition.