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Yesterday, Microsoft announced the rules for how developers can develop applications for the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. The only problem is, the way these rules are currently written, Microsoft has no prayer of ever beating Apple's iPhone App Store.
Microsoft's developer agreement starts off the same as Apple's iPhone App Store agreement. In both cases a developer pays $99 per year for access to the program. The other place where the Microsoft plan is identical to the Apple plan is that in both cases, the developer gets a 70% cut of the profits and Microsoft/Apple gets the other 30%. However these are the only things that are the same. There are two very key differences, however, that are going to destroy this service and give Apple an automatic victory in the mobile application market.
The first big difference is that the Microsoft plan limits a developer to selling only 5 apps per year. The Apple plan has no limit of how many apps a developer can sell per year. This limitation will cripple innovation in the Microsoft 'App Store'. Why would a developer risk one of those precious five apps on some kind of experimental app? They won't. This means that interesting 'experiments' won't show up on the Microsoft store. Apple, on the other hand, has no limit. This means lots of experimental (and admittedly lots of crappy) apps will be released. Yeah, some apps will be garbage, but still, if the developer can make money on a crap app, where's the harm? The Apple App Store is much more likely to see lots of apps if there's no limit on how many you can sell.
The second big difference is related to the first. If you do go past that 5 app per year limit, they charge you $100 to list every app after the fifth one. This includes free apps! This means that noone is going to release free apps. Why would you PAY $100 to release an app for free. It makes no sense.
Once again, Microsoft seems to be clueless in how to complete with Apple. If I were Microsoft, I would have offered all the development tools for free, allowed free registration in their App Store, and allowed unlimited apps - similar to the Android way.