Microsoft announced a few weeks ago that it's preparing to launch a supersite of sorts called "The Windows Mobile Marketplace". The site, which will presumably function like Apple's App Store, Research in Motion's App World, and whatever it is that a few other vendors offer, will offer software for the plethora of Windows Mobile devices on the market.
When I first heard the announcement, I was excited. Why shouldn't Microsoft get involved directly in application sales and, maybe, their involvement might mean that the apps included in the marketplace might be a of a little higher quality. Then I remembered the garbage that's in the App Store and completely lost the will to live.
While I applaud Microsoft's efforts to "be everything to everyone", I really don't see the need for their own store. From a user perspective, it just means one more place to go hunting for applications and, from a developer perspective, it means yet another thing you have to pay for just to get your software out to users as the marketplace will cost developers $99 a year. Yes, I realize that Apple does this too but, Handango doesn't and that's the primary place to get Windows Mobile software now.
What does Microsoft offer developers or users that's compelling enough to displace sites like Handango? In the marketing, they say 'expose your software to millions of potential customers' but I already do that at Handango. Maybe the fact that software has to conform to standards in order to be included in the marketplace will mean better software, but how does that fit in with the crap in the Apple App Store?
Really, just about the only "benefit" I can name of being part of the marketplace is its association with Microsoft. It's a lot like being part of the Apple App Store except, with Apple, you can't get your software anywhere else. And, if the Microsoft association is the only benefit, is it a real benefit at all? The Apple App Store is popular because it's the exclusive place to get iPhone and iPod Touch software, does the launch of the Windows Mobile Marketplace signal that Microsoft might be headed that way, forcing hardware partners to lock their devices down to only the authorized source.
As it stands, I'm probably not going to waste my time and money signing up as a developer for the marketplace. I'll keep publishing my software on Handango but watch what Microsoft does very closely. I'm sure the marketplace could be a very useful tool if the company had more control over hardware but, as it stands, it's just another "also ran".
Are you a Windows Mobile developer? If so, what do you think of the soon to be launched marketplace? Will you sign up? Am I dismissing it unfairly?