Microsoft's plans for its mobile application store just may change the way consumers look at apps and the Windows Mobile operating system. Not only has Microsoft changed contentious policies still enacted in Google and Apple's respective app stores, it has partnered with some of the most popular contemporary content providers and introduced original strategies for businesses. Here are three major reasons why I think Microsoft could blow its competition out of the water.
If you're dissatisfied with the ridiculous farting application you just bought, Microsoft will take it back for a full refund within 24 hours. Microsoft refunds its 30 percent share of the sales price, and developers return their 70 percent share. Google has a similar policy, but Apple's refund policy has infuriated developers. Apple makes developers pay back the full amount of the application, and still takes its 30 percent cut, shifting the financial burden on developers.
Apple mandates that applications be purchased through iTunes, and Google makes use of Google Checkout. Microsoft, on the other hand, has decided to allow customers the choice of either paying via credit card or have the charges planted on their mobile phone bill. This is a brilliant move, and though financial arrangements between Microsoft and cellular carriers have not been disclosed, it's safe to assume money is changing hands. This makes carriers happy, and strengthens relationships with those who are actually moving the phones. It also makes consumers less likely to second-guess purchases during the process of entering credit card information into a phone.
While some of Microsoft's content partnerships are nothing new -- Facebook, Pandora, MySpace, etc. -- the company has built a strong team of supporters. Some companies who have shaken hands with Microsoft include: CNBC, Accuweather, Ilium Software, Resco, Spb Software, WebIS, Sling Media, Zagat Survey, Namco, Netflix, and Electronic Arts Mobile. With that team of respected content providers standing in Microsoft's corner, you can expect developers to generate some very original apps. Even Microsoft's Facebook app will be different than other mobile versions: It will allow users to record and upload video to their Facebook pages.
More details on Microsoft's App Marketplace are expected to be issued as CTIA continues. Expect Microsoft to build a competitive edge as it learns from Apple and Google's successes and mistakes.