Are you going into debt? RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • It’s been almost a year since I published my first app in the Microsoft Windows 8 store. I downloaded all the tools, upgraded all my software, and paid my fee for that privilege.

    I spent months learning how Microsoft wanted me to write these new apps. I spent weeks dealing with their evangelists, preauthorization analysts, and certification specialists. I was quite literally promised “fame and fortune” by the Microsoft material I was sent.

    And now it is a year later. So let’s talk numbers…

    My latest Windows 8 App has been in the store for just over a month. In that time, it has risen from obscurity in its category, to being in the Top 100 of all apps in that category. With well over 2000 other apps in that category, that means my latest app is in the top 5%. I must be doing well. (In fact, all 4 of my apps have been in the top 2% at one time or another, but these are not the numbers I wish to talk about.)

    Our Dashboard lets us see how other apps in our category are doing. In the last month (June, 2013) the category received an average of 10,000 to 20,000 downloads PER DAY. Being in the top 5% of this category, one might expect that I would get at least 500 downloads per day. That’s not the case.

    Over the last month, my app has been downloaded approximately 5-10 times PER DAY. Being in the top 5%, that also means 95% of all apps in this category have fewer downloads than mine. I am therefore curious just what apps in this category are being downloaded so frequently. I must assume it is only those app that appear in the “highlighted” section. That also means that 2-3 applications in each category receive over 90% of all downloads.

    With 4 apps in the store, I’ve had the opportunity to experiment with different monetization options. I’ve tried free apps with advertising. I’ve tried trial apps that expire. I’ve tried limited apps with in-app purchases. I couldn’t tell you which one works the best, because I haven’t made enough money to tell.

    With my latest app, which is in the top 5%, I’ve received less than $5 from the downloads. But I haven’t really made that, because Microsoft takes 30%. They also don’t pay me until my balance exceeds $200, so at this rate, I should get paid by Microsoft… in about FOUR YEARS. In that four years, I will owe Microsoft about $300 for the privilege of being in their store. I’m going into debt - and I’m in the top 5%.

    Wait, it gets better.

    My very first app in the store contains advertising. That app has been in the store since August of 2012 (it was one of the first 200). I use the Microsoft PubCenter for advertising. I followed all their rules, am not doing anything unusual according to their documentation. As most of us know, we get paid each time an advertisement gets displayed. Or do we? Here are the numbers for that app from last month…

    Last month this one app requested to display an ad over 40,000 times. Less than 3000 times did the Microsoft PubCenter send an ad to my app to display. That is a fill rate of about 7.5%. For those 3000 or so times my app displayed an ad last month, I received 0.13 CENTS TOTAL – or an eCPM of 0.04.

    Microsoft PubCenter has a payout threshold of $20.00, so at this rate I will get paid by Microsoft $20.00 – after about THREE YEARS.

    I’ve been a software developer over 30 years. More than once I’ve sold my software for upwards of 7 figures. The apps that I now have in the store are not trivial crap-apps. They are not apps that turn your screen white when you press a button. These have taken time and effort to write, and I’m pretty good at writing them. Similar apps of mine that sell outside the store have made thousands of dollars. And all this time that I’ve been writing software, I’ve used the Microsoft platforms, from their C compiler, to Visual Basic, to .Net and WPF/Silverlight, and now WinRT. In all this time, I’ve never considered writing software that targets any other platform. But never before has the Microsoft platform given me so much grief after so much effort. Never before has Microsoft promised so much, and delivered so little to support developers on their platform.

    If all this sounds like I’m complaining because I’m not making any money… let me be clear: I am absolutely complaining because I’m not making any money. I’ve complained to the Windows Store, I’ve complained to PubCenter, I’ve complained to the evangelists and Microsoft managers that I know. They all send me literature that says something like, “just wait… fame and fortune… big numbers ahead”.

    Now it’s a year later, and Apple is looking better and better. And I don’t even like fruit.

    Since this is a forum for developers such as myself, I will ask a question to my fellow developers. Is my experience unique?  But let me qualify this question. I’m not a game developer. For the Top 100 paid applications in the Microsoft store, 98% are games, so I can’t comment about these apps. So, who is making any money from the store that isn’t writing games, and who is going into debt for the privilege being in the store?

    Bob DeCuir

    Friday, July 5, 2013 11:12 PM

All replies

  • Very interesting reading, and not encouraging.

    I have published three apps and tried a combination of free, trial and paid without trial, in social and lifestyle. Plenty of activity if free but nothing in the others. What is off interest is no one has download the paid $1 app. I have been a Microsoft developer for over fifteen years, I really want to support Windows 8 and also make money from selling Apps. I am not interested in writing free apps or games. I have purchased an Apple mini but have not yet convinced myself to start writing in IOS, hoping I will not need to, but I cannot continue to loose funds.

    Is this a numbers issue, are there simply not enough customers in the Windows 8 Store? Be in and early I told myself, a year ago. Interested in other developers experiences here.

    • Edited by Andy Sid Monday, July 15, 2013 3:55 AM uddate
    Monday, July 15, 2013 3:54 AM