Windows Mobile has in large part been heralded as a pretty good and sleek operating system. Consumers however, have not caught on at all, and Microsoft’s market share in the mobile OS market has been minimal. With Windows 10 and some strategic moves, it could mean the return to mobile relevance for Microsoft for a couple of reasons. However, Microsoft also has a unique opportunity to truly change the game in the industry through adopting a simple measure in the business model and technology used.
First, the reasons why they may become relevant to developers and consumers again:
1. Windows 10 is the same on every platform
This means there is no need to maintain separate code for mobile, tablets and desktop. Potentially this opens up for app developers in a much bigger way, as whatever they make will default work on any platform. Naturally developers would be wise to design to screen sizes and use cases (i.e. users on the go vs stationary etc), but the OS allows for this fairly easily.
2. Your Android or iOS app will work
Perhaps the biggest news is that with small modifications, Android and iOS apps will be able to run in a Windows 10.environment. This is huge, but is in line with Microsoft’s strategy of releasing their office and productivity apps on iOS and Android. What it means is of course potentially instant availability of equivalent app catalog to Google and Apple.
So, what’s still missing?
A well functioning eco-system means not only that an app can run on a handset. There are still a few gaps we see that still need to be addressed:
The store: Where will users be able to download apps? Will they follow Apple and only allow it on the Windows store? In our opinion (big surprise), we think this is a big mistake if that turns out to be the case. Being good at software and platforms does not mean you’re good at retailing. And creating yet another mega marketplace where only the big boys can compete gains nobody. Our advice: Allow for anyone to distribute and sell Windows 10 mobile apps.
The business models: No news have come out in terms of any changes in how Microsoft will deal with in-app billing. Does Microsoft expect developers to integrate their proprietary payment SDK? If so, big mistake. Our advice: Make the MS payment SDK available on OPFIab (formerly OpenIAB) and mandate use of OPFIab in apps run on Windows devices.
Why does this matter? Because most stores that hope to profit from the in-app revenue require the developer to put in a different payment SDK than Google’s. Adding payment SDKs is a big hassle and most developers simply will not do it. We’ve seen this even for stores generating millions of downloads per month that persuading app developers to integrate a new payment SDK is very, very difficult.
Microsoft is the organization with true market power to really catapult the adoption of OPFIab as enough developers would use it in order to have their apps available on Windows devices. This means Microsoft could truly break the Google Play chains and allow for the proliferation of a multi-payment SDK that works on a large number of stores – thereby enabling more stores to be created and be in the value chain. That would be a true win-win for the industry.