Will Microsoft SkyMarket end Windows Mobile app sales at Handango, PocketGear?


WindowsmobilelogoOne of the most appealing features of Windows Mobile is the vast support for third-party applications. You name the problem and it’s a safe bet there’s a software solution out there for you. Of course, you have to find it. Aside from a Windows Mobile marketplace like those offered at Handango and PocketGear, there’s no "one-stop shopping" for WinMo apps. Obviously Apple has the App Store for the iPhone platform and even Nokia offers a small selection of apps through the Download function on their devices.

Microsoft appears poised to change that based on an open job description that offers clues to a centralized software marketplace. SkyMarket is tentatively planned to debut with Windows Mobile 7, although it’s not yet clear if older Windows Mobile devices are able to take advantage of the anticipated storefront. I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t be able to, but it also wouldn’t surprise me to see direct app purchase work initially with the new mobile operating system. It would be a much bigger win for Microsoft if Windows Mobile 5 and 6 were supported out of the gate, however.

What’s really interesting to me is going to be in the details of how this store will work from a developer standpoint. Will Microsoft collect revenues from software sales, much as Apple does in the iTunes App Store? The way things work now, developers can download the Windows Mobile SDK free of charge and then create, offer and sell their apps with no additional payments going to Microsoft. However, ff they sell their apps through Handango today, 40% of the sales revenue goes to Handango; the same figure applies to  PocketGear That tells me that the more apps sold through SkyMarket, the more revenue will be shifted from Handango to Microsoft, and I’m betting the Handango & PocketGear folks are none to happy about that.

At the end of the day however, it’s about the customer experience. The ability to quickly search for and then purchase, download and run third-party apps on the iPhone is generally a positive experience for me. Microsoft looks to be emulating that experience and as I put my consumer hat on, that’s something I can’t wait to see.


Raphael Salgado

I stopped developing for Windows Mobile for two reasons:

1. The cut was too high for strong-armed companies like Handango and PocketGear. It leaves developers with little net profit, or it forces them to charge more than what the program deserves. This leads to…

2. Piracy. With so much piracy for Windows Mobile devices, it’s easier for the end user to Google up a RapidShare link or join thriving warez sites to grab the latest goods. Apple got the right idea by wrapping their App Store downloads with FairPlay DRM, and even though it’s been hacked for Jailbroken devices, they are actively pursuing firmware fixes that will close those holes.


Microsoft should do it ASAP, I dont like Handango and Pocketgear and searching all over the web for mobile apps. I love the apple app store can’t wait to try it on WM7 devices next year ..

Eric S. Mueller

I don’t really care if Microsoft creates a centralized software marketplace, as long as I can still get my applications outside of it. I don’t care much for Handango, but it’s not too much of a problem for me. Every now and again I’ll find that one program that can only be purchased through them, but it doesn’t happen much. One thing I like about Windows Mobile is that I can get my programs anywhere. I’m not very thrilled with the Apple App Store for my iPod Touch. There are some interesting applications, but I resent that there are no trials as of yet. I don’t normally like to drop money on a program, especially for a mobile device, unless I can try it first. If Microsoft is able to duplicate the App Store, great, but if they shut down the ability to get my applications elsewhere, I just might jump platform.


Gavin, it was done years ago by Handango. Their InHand client installs on WinMo to give you direct access to their catalogue.

Of course, I can see why it would have taken a while for something like this to take off. Although it would have been possible over wifi there’s no way I’d want to download applications over GPRS. Even UMTS is too slow and unreliable IMO but HSDPA solves the problem. Unlike Apple, Microsoft have more phones out there that lack 3G but that won’t be the case once WinMo 7 is released (I’d expect all WinMo 7 phones will be 3G or faster.)

Gavin Miller

This could have been done years ago. It has taken a long time to free Cab files from their EXE containers with forced installations from a PC. Develop a simple front end that allows direct purchase and download/install of cab files to the device and we’re good to go!


Handango and Pocketgear deserver to lose business when they take such a high percentage from developers.

I think Microsoft would do well to try and take as little as possible. If Microsoft could provide an easy to use online shop without taking a cut of the profits it would encourage more developers to produce better apps which can only be positive for Windows Mobile. They can certainly afford as demonstrated by the fact that they give away free versions of their developer tools.

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