Microsoft hosted the event at their London offices in Victoria.
As our host, Alex Reeve, Director Mobile Business Group, Microsoft gave an opening address.
Opening comment “Microsoft are back in the mobile industry”
Windows Phone 7 experience is based on a seamless media, contacts and calendar experience. The UI is heavily influenced by the Microsoft Zune (media device) which Microsoft will be bringing to the UK at some point on the future. XNA ( Xbox developer platform) will be supported on the device allowing cross platform developments. Microsoft are committed to a three screen environment that includes games (Xbox, TV), web (PC) and mobile.
The chair of the panel was Marek Pawlowski, Founder of MEX. On the Panel were Oded Ran, Microsoft Consumer Marketing, Ilia Uvaroz, RG/A, Nick Lansley, Tesco IT and Mobile R&D Head, Tom Hume, MD Future Platforms and Jerry Ennis from Flirtomatic.
Marek started with some industry stats:
- Current trend is 250M smartphones sold per year
- Current Smartphone install base is 400M
- Three quarters of mobile developers use an Android or Apple device <- Certainly the events that I go to this is true!
Which platform do you star with? How do you decide?
Nick (Tesco) – Draw big Venn diagram of handsets and online and where the intersection is that is your target. Tesco started on the iPhone because Nick was using one and regarded it as a hero device. Could the iPad be the next hero device?
Jerry (Flirtomatic) – Started with a Java app on Nokia devices. Found this was too difficult to produce across all platforms. Moved to mobile web which has been very successful. Have developed an iPhone app which has been very successful.
Tom (Future Platforms) – Would recommend web/Java in the first instance until audience has been confirmed. Suggested spending £50 on adwords to see who would click through to the service you were creating would be money well spent <- What a smart idea!!
Oded (MS) – Application has to look great. Platform should have great tools to ease development, don’t want to spend lots of time wrangling the development environment. In the end the application needs to be fun or make money.
Comment from the audience – Ed @touchnote discussed that they had developed for Nokia and the OVI store first. Really struggled to make money. Android/RIM/iPhone have been a much better experience. View was that OVI was letting the Nokia down.
Discussion moved to application updates. Given people have lots of applications could this lead to constant downloads/updates?
Jerry – Application uses a native iPhone wrapper. Core content of the application can be changed on the fly as long as the application itself is not changed i.e. application does not have to resubmitted to the app store.
Nick – Approach is to offer functionality updates when they want to fix major bugs. Perceived that there is then a good reason to update the application.
Is current fragmentation sustainable?
View from the panel was that there is some consolidation going on around web/HTML5 etc. Developers should support platforms first and foremost where there are customers for their offerings. <- Not sure either of those comments answered the question. Is this falling into the iPhone/Android trap?
How can Microsoft best support application developers to make money?
These comments came from the crowd – Don’t force people to write applications in Silverlight. Reveal the numbers in the app store to give developers insight. 70/30 is the normal split for developers in the app stores, that is an opportunity for Microsoft to mix things up a bit and provide proper competition.
What about using tools for cross platform development?
Nick had some views on this, don’t choose mediocre tools to create cross platform applications, gives a poor experience. Lowest common denominator developments satisfy no one.
An interesting night, a good panel and a good Chair. Nice to see a bolder Microsoft with developers, more on Windows Phone 7 in my next post!