Windows Phone is currently FIVE times more profitable for us than the iPhone

Written by gkaravias on December 2nd, 2011. Posted in Inside Anlock

When we first embarked on our mobile application development journey, choosing the target platform was a no-brainer:  iOS was leading by a wide margin, Android was fragmented and mostly free/ad supported (not in line with our business model) and Windows Phone had just been launched and had an unknown future.  Our first iPhone app was released in the App Store in March 2011 and has been very successful.

Having set out our App Store expansion strategy (both in terms of markets and in terms of other apps), we began evaluating other platforms.  Following the “impartial” advice of a close friend at Microsoft, we decided to give WP7 a try.  We had all the content from our iPhone apps – all we needed was the “engine” to run our games on WP7.  Someone from my friend’s team in Microsoft was willing to give us a hand and co-develop the WP7 engine with us, so we were good to go in just a couple of weeks!

We now have 13 applications on the Windows Phone Marketplace and 12 on the App Store, across six different languages, all fully localized. The applications are educational, for children aged 3 to 6 and help them learn the letters, words and spelling.

The claim in the title of the blog post refers to the English versions, “First Words with Phonics: Learning Animals” in the App Store and “First Words: Learning Animals” in the Marketplace since their launch in the US alone (they were both launched in July).  We have the same UI and resources on both applications  both have Lite versions (for WP7 we also have a trial version) and, to make it more specific, we are talking about an iPhone-only app for the App Store.  Moreover:

  1.  Both apps have been featured. By Microsoft on the App Hub and on the “New + Pinworthy \Parents” and by Apple on the “What’s Hot” in both our categories.  Disclaimer:  We only got featured in the US WP Marketplace about a month ago, almost 4 months after releasing the app and after having been in the top of our category for 3 consecutive months.  I just felt I should point this out in case people thought we would get “special treatment” for having friends @ Microsoft. That’s not how it works…
  2.  Both applications have plenty of 4 and 5 star reviews

There are also some major differences:

  1. The App store version is more enhanced than the Marketplace version, including phonics.
  2. We executed an extensive marketing plan for the iPhone app that unfortunately went south, as it was not coordinated properly. Setting up the campaign and executing it took a lot of time and used up significant resources (including money).
  3.  On the other hand we had little to none marketing activities set up and executed for the WP7 app.

In terms of ranking, our WP7 app has been number 1 in the US in the Kids + Family category for the past three months in the Marketplace. As for the iPhone app, it has been ranked in the top 400 in Games\Educational for more than 2/3 of the entire time frame, reaching the top 100.

The end result? As said, FIVE time more sales of our WP7 app vs. our iPhone app.

So how can a well written iPhone app, with great reviews, featured by Apple and supported with marketing efforts, perform so much worse than the exact same, equally top rated, app on WP7?  How is this possible, given Apple’s market share in smartphones (and compared to Microsoft’s)?

The answer is quite simple: Apple has 500.000+ apps on the App Store compared to only 30.000+ on the Windows Phone Marketplace. The potential, in terms of devices in the market, of the App Store is huge compared to that of the Marketplace but, at the same time, there is fierce competition and a LOT of noise in the App Store, making it extremely difficult to stand out.

So, provided you have a killer app and unless you have a solid, well coordinated marketing plan in place for the App Store that you will execute with diligence along with a twist of luck, you stand a pretty good chance of having your app buried in the ruble. On the other hand your killer app will stand out on the Marketplace and will reward you accordingly. And with all the Nokia devices hitting the market soon, it can only get better.  Of course, the later you decide to join, the better it is for the rest of us that are already in… ;)

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