Download my latest Windows 10 apps!
1. Make desktop versions of your apps!
When Microsoft announced Universal Apps with Windows/Windows Phone 8.1, I thought it was kinda neat but didn’t go out of the way to make any of my Windows Phone apps desktop apps. (I did write a small one, Float to Hex, but it was mostly just to teach myself how to do it) You had to write a whole separate view for each page for both desktop and mobile, which meant you could share model code, etc, but there was still a lot of duplicate work.
After the launch of the Universal Windows Platform with Windows/Windows Phone 10, it became a lot easier to write apps that worked on desktop and on the phone, since you could now use the same views, so I decided to give it a shot. It was still more of a novelty, since the first app I did this for was SatRadioGuide (a SiriusXM channel guide), which I was convinced was way more useful on a phone (i.e. while you’re in the car) than on the desktop, especially since you could just go to the SiriusXM website to look at the channels!
Unfortunately it’s a little hard to get accurate data from the Windows Dev Center on the PC/phone mix, but I’m pretty sure the majority of Windows 10 downloads of SatRadioGuide have come on the PC. In fact, all the in-app purchases on Windows 10 have come on the PC!
My guess is that this is mostly because of install base – there are (by some estimates) 180 million desktop machines that are running Windows 10, and only around 1 million phones. (the number of phones will go up as Windows 10 is officially released for older Lumia models, but still!) Even if a much smaller percentage of people on desktop machines are looking for apps, that install base difference is enormous.
The nice part about the UWP is that many controls adapt to work well on different screen sizes, so it takes a lot less effort to design for both. For SatRadioGuide looking at the Master/detail sample was very helpful. But even if it takes more work, I’ve concluded that it’s worth the effort!
2. IAPs need to be more than just removing ads
Another strategy I’ve used in the past is making my apps free with ads and including an In-App Purchase to turn them off. This had the nice property of working on all of my apps without too much thought. The problem is that apparently this is not a very compelling upgrade, because the sales numbers have been very low.
And, honestly, I can kind of understand this. Even if it’s only 99 cents, when I see the option to remove ads in an app I’m hesitant to buy it. Is it really worth it? It feels like I’m getting very little in return.
Instead, for SatRadioGuide I spent some extra time and added a “Seasonal Stations” feature where you could view the temporary stations that pop up from time to time. I then made the in-app purchase be to show seasonal stations and remove ads, and I raised the price to $2.99. I wasn’t sure if the price was too high, but since it takes ongoing work by me to keep it up to date, it felt reasonable.
And lo and behold, people have been buying! In raw numbers it’s not too impressive, but it’s more than had been buying the “remove ads” IAP, and since the price went up the revenue difference is substantial.
So, from now on I’m going to try to find extra features that I can add to an IAP. For Know Your States, when I ported it to UWP I added a map quiz behind an IAP, and I’m hopeful that people will think it’s worth upgrading.
I’m planning on writing more posts about Windows Phone development – what would you like to hear about? Reply here, on twitter at @gregstoll, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.