Microsoft: Our mobile app store is beating Android and Apple, thanks to microtransactions

By Peter Gothard
14 Apr 2014 View Comments

Microsoft revealed figures at Build last week that suggest the company is making more money per 1,000 devices than either Apple's App Store or Google's Play Store.

Displaying figures on a slide during a developer-aimed presentation about monetising app projects, head of the Windows Phone client store program at Microsoft, Zac Woodall, showed that Windows 8 Phone's top-ranking app is earning $9.54 per 100 devices, while iOs' equivalent is earning just $6.18, and Android's just $2.77.

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Woodall put the majority of Microsoft's apparent success in this area down to in-app purchasing models, naming "games" specifically as the basis of such transactions, and stating that IAP [in-app purchasing] now counts for over half of Windows Store's revenue.

"We've experienced a huge increase in IAP revenue," said Woodall.

"This enables free-to-play models for games. Fifteen months ago we released this [model] on Windows Phone, and since that the IAP has seen 100 per cent quarter for quarter revenue growth, and now represents over half of the revenue being generated in the Windows store today, and shows no sign of slowing."

Woodall's apparent pride in Microsoft's successes with IAP came just weeks after Apple - responding to a high level of media and public criticism - released a new feature in its iOS 7.1 platform update to warn users about an ensuing 15-minute IAP window after the first purchase in a session is made, with the option to change these sessions on each occasion.

Computing asked Woodall whether Microsoft is now equally considerate of its audience - many cases which have come to light with Apple involve young children making purchases without parental knowledge - or whether it is content to continue doing business on its app store with the knowledge that in-app purchasing could very well be carried out against the wishes of device owners.

"I think it's important to give convenience to consumers, but also important to protect and control the purchases they make," said Woodall.

"So Windows Phone 8 enables parents to simply require a PIN. They tell their kids the PIN, that's the problem, right? I do this myself. I give my kid my tablet, my other kid my phone, they want to check out the games that Dad has on his phone. But I also put the PIN lock in it.

The key thing is the empowerment of choice - letting the user decide what to buy, and we're very proud that we have that technology up front."

But when asked if the PIN option was switched on or off by default on Windows devices, Woodall replied, "It is an option. By default it's off."

"But making it as convenient as possible for people to buy business services is equally important," Woodall continued.

"It is the case of the world today that nine out of 10 adults don't have a credit card," continued Woodall.

"The problem is you have to ask users, at least one time, to enter credit card information. So one click is so important to the App Store infrastructure."

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