re: Microsoft Seeks Windows 8 App Wave
My company is currently a one-man software development org specializing in mobile apps. I am targeting the Windows phone and tablet platform exclusively, for two primary reasons: 1) I have considerable past expertise in MSFT-related development; and (more importantly) 2) I believe the Microsoft technology platform has an excellent chance for the future. So in my thinking, their tiny market share in the mobile area is currently irrelevant to me.
That being said, I have a serious concern about MSFT at this point. While they currently have the technical and financial wherewithal to pursue this new market, much of their internal philosophy and therefore external actions reflect a gross over-confidence in their present position of strength. For example, they still approach the app-development community in the same way as they did when they were king of the desktop. Ergo, they charge a premium price for the development tools and developer support, and after much research I'm convinced that many leaders at Microsoft don't believe this past reality needs to change in this new world. I believe this is a grave mistake, which they must begin changing immediately.
MSFT has lost the loyalty of the development community at large, although die-hard Microsoft "cultist" developers will stick with them until the Titanic sinks. I am not one such developer. So although I'm pursuing their technology platform full-steam-ahead, I'm also standing on the foredeck watching for icebergs. Microsoft's old developer paradigm is a berg I've already spotted, but so far Redmond is not changing their course to avoid the impending collision. Based on their experience in this new market, they should have learned better by now.
The mobile marketplace tells us all we need to know about Microsoft's "rep" with developers, at least those serving the application needs of the consumer market (ergo, the world at large). We the people of the developer community have become interested in the consumer market on a mass scale, and the Apple/Google camp represents that market on their technology platforms. Thus far, Microsoft is effectively a non-entity.
What the MSFT demi-gods are missing in this equation is the "we could possibly fail" factor. They are smug, based on my personal experience with their views, and their old-school treatment of developers is only one evidence. And they are arrogant if they continue their current position of believing they will attract both the quality and quantity of apps to their platform they must have to survive, all the while attempting to milk prospective developers dry through the cost of MSFT development tools. If Microsoft commanded the market share Apple does, they could get by with such tactics. To say the least, they do not, and they cannot.
Regardless of the present size of their war chest, this particular brick is going to prove too heavy for Redmond to fly in the long run. Without removing the significant obstacle of development-tool costs in short order (i.e. without providing Visual Studio Pro free to all), Microsoft is placing an unrealistically heavy burden of commitment, or even interest, onto an already-proven-fickle dev community.
Let's briefly summarize the revenue reality for the thinkers in Redmond:
1) Current lack of market share deters many developers from being interested in the MSFT phone/tablet platform.
2) Current dev-software costs deter many other developers that are not already put off by the apparent lack of opportunity.
3) The consumer market represents the future of computing -- it will drive everything, including financial success.
4) Microsoft is in no position to behave as if the enterprise software market is all they need to care about; i.e., they either succeed in the consumer market or be consigned to becoming only a "niche" technology company, much as IBM now is (rewind to the 80s).
5) Providing great tools at no cost (such as VS Pro) is a significant incentive for developers wondering whether they should be at all interested in pursuing the paltry consumer-market portion Microsoft currently owns.
6) MSFT will recoup its initial investment in the app developer through:
a) 30% off-the-top pure profit on app sales
b) MSDN annual subscription purchases and renewals
c) Additional MSFT software-license sales on W8-based devices
d) Yearly fees for membership in the W7 Phone or W8 App marketplace
e) Serving and thus endearing the consumer app-dev community
f) Most important: gaining significant popularity in the new world at large