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Microsoft Whets Our APPetite

Are you ready for those awesome new apps we'll soon be able to download to our Windows Mobile-powered smartphones?
Are you ready for those awesome new apps we'll soon be able to download to our Windows Mobile-powered smartphones?Microsoft thinks it's going to replicate Apple's success with the iPhone App Store. So how would the two compare?

Time magazine recently ran a list of its favorite iPhone apps, which include music discovery service Pandora; Midomi (which lets the phone identify music you're hearing in a public place); Remote, which turns your iPhone into a remote control device for your computer; business rating service Yelp; Facebook photo-sharing service ShoZu; and Jott for recording reminders.

What would apps look like on the Windows Mobile OS? I'm thinking Yawnz, a mobile PowerPoint editor, or maybe ShackL, which prevents you from sending files to phones powered by other operating systems. How about iTunZ, an app that lets you download songs from your Zune music player so you can listen to them on your new Motorola phone?

I wonder if Microsoft will do as good a job of promoting those apps as Apple?

It had better, since it plans to charge developers more for the privilege of getting in front of its customers.

How's that?

Well, like Apple, Microsoft plans to charge developers an annual $99 fee to participate in its app-dev program. (That's just table stakes -- that doesn't guarantee their apps will be approved.)

Also like Apple, Microsoft plans to take a 30% cut of revenue earned by developers.

And also like Apple, Microsoft plans to review apps before allowing them to appear on its app store.

Apple hasn't issued any guidelines about what is and isn't acceptable (farts are OK, curses aren't?), and Microsoft isn't any clearer about its intentions.

But while Apple at least allows developers to submit as many apps as they like for their $99, Microsoft will only let developers submit five apps for that price. Developers would then have to pay another $99 for each additional app they submit for review.

Microsoft's response is typical in its arrogance: the charge is "an acceptable cost of doing business for [software developers] looking to get in front of millions of customers."

So Microsoft is either saying developers have to pay for the privilege of getting in front of its customers, or that it will have to spend a lot more time than Apple reviewing apps because it will have more developers for its mobile OS than Apple does for the iPhone.

Check out WordZ, which translates written numbers into numerals in an Excel spreadsheet. It doesn't get more exciting than that.